Circuit Court

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of the Circuit Court is to serve Sixth Judicial Circuit residents in the determination of litigation in serious criminal matters, substantive civil cases, domestic and child support cases in accordance with the Constitution while administering justice in an honest, fair, and efficient manner.

BUDGET OVERVIEW

The total recommended FY16 Operating Budget for the Circuit Court is $14,020,516, an increase of $41,424 or 0.3 percent from the FY15 Approved Budget of $13,979,092. Personnel Costs comprise 80.1 percent of the budget for 112 full-time positions and four part-time positions, and a total of 114.00 FTEs. Total FTEs may include seasonal or temporary positions and may also reflect workforce charged to or from other departments or funds. Operating Expenses account for the remaining 19.9 percent of the FY16 budget.

LINKAGE TO COUNTY RESULT AREAS

While this program area supports all eight of the County Result Areas, the following are emphasized:

  • A Responsive, Accountable County Government
  • Healthy and Sustainable Neighborhoods
  • Vital Living for All of Our Residents

DEPARTMENT PERFORMANCE MEASURES

Performance measures for this department are included below, with multi-program measures displayed at the front of this section and program-specific measures shown with the relevant program. The FY15 estimates reflect funding based on the FY15 approved budget. The FY16 and FY17 figures are performance targets based on the FY16 recommended budget and funding for comparable service levels in FY17.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND INITIATIVES

  • In FY14, Montgomery County Circuit Court processed 36,041 filings and 36,301 terminations, 646 more terminations than in FY13, resulting in a clearance rate of 101%.

  • The Court met or exceeded case processing performance standards set by the Maryland Judiciary in FY14 for Family-Limited Divorce cases and Termination of Parental Rights cases.

  • In FY14, the Court improved its case processing performance in Civil cases (95% to 97%), Child in Need of Assistance Shelter cases (72% to 81%), and Child in Need of Assistance Non-Shelter cases (66% to 89%).

  • The Court opened the South Tower on April 28, 2014, adding 10 courtrooms, 8 hearings rooms, and office space for the Family Division, the Family Law Self-Help Center, and the Juvenile Division.

  • For the first six months of FY15, the Court processed 15,796 filings and 16,258 terminations, respectively. The annual filings and terminations for FY15 (compared to FY14) are estimated to increase by 8% reaching 39,062 filings and 39,348 terminations.

  • The Court annually updates its web-based performance dashboard that displays 10 nationally-recognized trial court performance measures (CourTools) developed by the National Center for State Courts. In FY15, the Court presented data in support of the court employee satisfaction measure, which highlights results from the Court’s first annual survey of court employees. More information can be found at: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/circuitcourt/court/publications/publications.html.

  • The Adult Drug Court commemorated its 10th Anniversary on November 12, 2014. Since the program’s inception,148 participants have graduated.

  • During the first half of FY15, the Court opened a newly-renovated Jury Lounge, now located on the second floor of the North Tower. Other projects currently underway include construction of the Child Waiting Area in the South Tower and, in the North Tower, renovations to the Clerk of the Court’s office and the office space for the retired judges. These projects are expected to be completed before the end of the fiscal year.

  • The Court will be performing more detailed analyses of its Juvenile Delinquency cases and reviewing select cases where an extraordinary cause postponement was granted to determine if efficiencies are to be gained in case processing.

  • The U.S. Census estimates that by 2040 one in five of the county’s residents will be 65 years or older (compared to one in ten in 2000). To meet the anticipated needs of this segment of the county’s population, the Court anticipates the continuation of its Adult Guardianship Grant program. This program is designed to help guardians successfully fulfill their responsibilities.

  • The Adult Drug Court will continue to support the mission of eliminating drug abuse, crime, the consequences of crime, thereby increasing public safety by leveraging new initiatives in the areas of education and life skills. The GED program will be improved to include supportive services and partnerships will be forged with the local business community to provide career-based employment opportunities for qualified participants.

  • The Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) case management and electronic filing system was deployed in Fall 2014. The Court will continue to analyze the technical challenges associated with integrating this eventual statewide case management system with the functionality of its own case management system as well as its differentiated case management policies.

  • Based on the information obtained from its first employee satisfaction survey, the Court will define and implement several administrative initiatives related to employee development and the management of court operations. The initiatives will further develop the skills of court personnel in an effort to improve upon the quality service currently delivered to internal and external customers. Gains in operational efficiency are anticipated to occur without hindering the Court’s ability to administer justice in an honest and fair manner.

Productivity Improvements

  • Updated policies and practices related to the Family Differentiated Case Management (DCM) plan. The existing Family DCM plan will be modified to allow for specified cases to be assigned to an individual Circuit Court Judge and Family Division Support Team for the totality of the litigation process, in essence One Family, One Judge.The approach was recognized by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges as one of the key elements to provide expedited and coordinated resolutions for cases involving children, youth and families. It is anticipated that any stress created when families are shuttled between different departments and courtrooms to resolve a variety of issues will be reduced with this approach. In addition, case progression is anticipated to be more efficient since the assigned judge will already be familiar with the family’s general situation.

  • The Court’s Jury Office will transition from a two-step to a one-step process in jury selection; join a statewide jury management system; install kiosks to streamline the juror check-in process; and convert to cash payment for jury service.

  • The Court is undertaking several initiatives aimed at improving services to self-represented litigants who visit the Court for assistance. One initiative focuses on examining the front and back-office processes in the Family Law self-Help Center to address increased demand and evaluate service delivery. Another project is to increase the type of information collected from the client intake form to better inform the Court’s understanding of the quality of service delivery.

  • The Court has automated the process of collecting and analyzing the ‘To Be Assigned’ docket. Overall, the percentage of ‘To Be Assigned’ cases reached between April 2011 and June 2014 is 98%. This analysis enables the Court to better manage its workload through more efficient scheduling and better management of resources.

PROGRAM CONTACTS

Contact Judy Rupp of the Circuit Court at 240.777.9103 or Elyse Greenwald of the Office of Management and Budget at 240.777.2768 for more information regarding this department's operating budget.