20 Years at a Glance

Innovations in the California Courts - 20 of Years of Great Ideas

20 Years At A Glance

177 court programs have received the Kleps Award since its inception in 1991. Programs that were revolutionary at the time—family law courts, automated juror reporting systems, self-help centers, and form filing systems just to name a few, are now common practice. 

Presented below is a small sampling of the Kleps Award programs through the years. To see a comprehensive listing of all Kleps Award submissions and recipients since the program's inception in 1991 click here.

Event Date: Event Title: Event Description:
Statewide trial court coordination workshop, 1996. The successful consolidation of court services in the Trinity County courts and other courts throughout the state soon progressed to coordination, and by 2001 all California counties had unified their superior and municipal courts. 01/01/1991 Court Services Unit Superior Court and Justice Courts of Trinity County– In 1988, the Superior Court and the justice courts consolidated their staffs into one unit, resulting in a central counter that offered faster, more efficient public service. California voters passed a constitutional amendment providing for voluntary unification of superior and municipal courts in each county into a single, countywide trial court system. By January 2001, all 58 counties voted to unify their municipal and superior courts.
Advertisement for the TIPS program, 1993. 01/01/1992 Traffic Interactive Payment System (TIPS) Los Angeles Municipal Court — In 1992, over 50,000 traffic tickets were issued monthly in L.A.. Most were paid in person at the courthouses. The court developed TIPS so people could pay their fines via a Touch-Tone phone. TIPS got great reviews from customers and from court clerks, who were able to offer quality service to customers in person. Court customers can still use TIPS, but most now pay their fines online at an average of $2.1 million in traffic fines per week.
In all, the San Diego County courts coordinated more than 4,500 cases related to breast implants, believed at the time to be the largest legal action in the nation’s history. Source: San Diego Union Tribune, January 4, 1993, pg. B-1. 01/01/1993 BIC Technology — Achieving the Future Today Superior Court of San Diego County — In the 90s, over 4,000 cases were filed in California against the manufacturers of silicone-gel breast implants. These cases were coordinated into one master case. The court used technology to let users instantly retrieve any documents filed and allowed the 400 attorneys to view communication from the court as soon as they were posted. The San Diego County court managed this case cost-effectively and became a model for civil case coordination.
Public service counter of the superior court in the Riverside Hall of Justice, 1999. 01/01/1994 Cross Filing and Payment Acceptance Program Superior Court and Municipal Courts of Riverside County — Cross-court filings and payments began so that people could go to any court regardless of the type of case, jurisdiction, or location, increasing operating efficiency of the court and giving the public greater access to the courts. Riverside pioneered and demonstrated the benefits of consolidation and coordination. Within several years, other counties had begun to follow the Riverside courts’ lead.
A happy and proud graduate of drug treatment court (center). 01/01/1995 Santa Clara County Courts Treatment Court Superior Court and Municipal Courts of Santa Clara County — Treatment Court substitutes for the expensive and time-consuming criminal justice model in dealing with criminal offenses of addicts. The offender is assigned to a monitored, year-long treatment program. The rate of recidivism among participants has been greatly reduced—with significant cost savings. Santa Clara now has four drug courts. Statewide, there are presently more than 200 drug courts; nationally, there are 2,450.
01/01/1996 Simulated Courtroom Clerk Training San Diego Municipal Court — In 1994, the Court began using a simulated courtroom to train court clerks using recordings of actual court sessions, finished calendars, and completed dockets, until they can perform at a pace that matches the recording. Simulated training has been adopted as one of the methods taught by the California Court Clerk Training Institute, which works with clerks from courts throughout California, who then return to their own courts and train new clerks.
Today all Judicial Council court forms are available at www.courts.ca.gov, and local forms are available online on most local courts’ websites. 01/01/1997 Forms Automation System Superior Court and Municipal Court of San Bernardino County — The old method of requesting, printing, transporting, and storing forms required hundreds of staff hours. Printing them on-demand enabled employees to provide faster, higher-quality service and yielded an annual savings of $154,000. Today, almost all legal forms for all courts in California are available on the California Courts website. Court users can access a form, fill it out online, print and send it to the appropriate court.
Central Orange County Municipal Court celebrates receiving the Kleps Award in 1998. Left to right: Don Rice, Albert De La Isla, Judge Donna Crandall, Assistant Court Executive Officer Robert Gray of the Central Orange County Municipal Court, Dee Velasco, Executive Officer Alan Slater of the San Diego County Superior Court, Lana Dinh, and Executive Officer Robert Kuhel of the Central Orange County Municipal Court. 10/01/1998 Domestic Violence Registry Central Orange County Municipal Court Central Orange County Municipal County — The Domestic Violence Registry captures all domestic violence cases orders in local and statewide electronic databases, making them available to courts throughout the county and to the sheriff’s main dispatch center. Before, many orders were never entered into any electronic database, meaning that the protected party had to provide the original restraining order when necessary, often delayed enforcement. The Orange County registry is a model for CCPOR.
Profile of the Superior Court of Yolo County’s Unified Family Court in the September/October 2000 issue of the Journal of the California State Association of Counties. 01/01/1999 Unified Family Court Superior Court of Yolo County — The Unified Family Court consolidated all family, probate, guardianship, and juvenile cases for one family in front of one judge. This “one judge, one family” approach allowed for holistic solutions to the multiple needs of a single family and made more efficient use of court resources. A number of courts have adopted many of the practices of the unified model; yielding better communication among courts serving members of one family.
Adoption Day ceremonies in Los Angeles. Former Chief Justice Ronald M. George (left) presides over an Adoption Saturday in 1999. The day was filled with happy children, families, and teddy bear judges for all. 01/01/2000 Sara Berman Adoption Saturdays Superior Court of Los Angeles County — To accelerate the adoption of children in foster care, in 1997 the court brought all parties needed to complete adoptions together on a Saturday, including volunteer attorneys and court personnel. Held three or four times a year, Adoption Saturdays soon became very popular. In November, 2000, the Alliance for Children’s Rights held a National Adoption Day, based on the model. Since 2007, all 50 states have participated, with events in 300 cities.
Left to right: Justice Rick Sims, Administrative Presiding Justice Arthur G. Scotland, and Justice Fred K. Morrison from the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, speak with students at the El Dorado County Outreach Program held at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs on March 6, 2003. 01/01/2001 Court Outreach Program Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District — Justices and court staff travel to different high schools to answer questions about the appellate process and hold oral arguments in actual cases at the school. By 2011, events had been held in 20 of the 23 counties in district. The program has served as a model for other appellate courts—and for the California Supreme Court, which holds outreach events each year for hundreds of high school, university, and law school students.
Students visit the Superior Court of San Diego County and participate in a mock trial. 01/01/2002 On My Honor Law Education Program Superior Court of San Diego County — On My Honor educates children about the legal system and how courtrooms operate. Originally for 4th and 5th graders, the program expanded to middle schoolers. The program features classroom curriculum and a court visit where students participate in a mock trial presided by an actual judge. The program served as the model for California On My Honor. To date, more than 59,000 students and 580 teachers have participated in various court outreach programs.
More than 137,500 forms were completed and printed from the I-CAN! system to be filed in California courts during fiscal year 2010-11. 01/01/2003 Interactive Community Assistance Network (I-CAN!) Superior Court of Orange County — I-CAN! is a network of web-based legal services and interactive kiosks. A litigant can find legal forms and answer questions that then populate them. The litigant can then print and file the forms with the court. In 2011, I-CAN! began offering e-filing for parties involved in small claims cases allowing for quicker access to documents for the court. The web-based version of I-CAN! has been adopted by the California courts self-help website.
Attorney Suzanne Morlock meets via videoconference with assistant Margaret Vasquez-Ahrens and a Spanish-speaking litigant. Vasquez- Ahrens translates as Morlock answers the litigant’s questions. 01/01/2005 Self-Help and Referral Program (SHARP) Superior Courts of Butte, Glenn, and Tehama Counties — SHARP provides legal assistance to self-represented litigants and offers small workshops featuring legal information and assistance from the staff attorney, both in person and via videoconferences, enabling residents of the three rural counties to participate from a location close to their homes. Response among users has been very positive. Legal forms are now filled out more accurately; reducing requests to the clerks for help and helping to better prepare litigants for hearings and trials.
A Cal Poly Pomona student involved in JusticeCorps in its first year helps litigants in Los Angeles. The student is now a recent graduate of the University of San Francisco Law School. 01/01/2006 JusticeCorps Superior Court of Los Angeles County — In 2004, the court created JusticeCorps in collaboration with local universities, nonprofits, and AmeriCorps. The program recruits and trains 100 college students a year to work in self-help programs at courts throughout the county. Litigants express a high level of satisfaction with the help and judges note that court users are better prepared. JusticeCorps is in nine counties serving 48% of the state’s population. Since 2004, over 1000 recruits have provided more than 240,000 hours of service.
Public Counsel Attorney Lisa Jaskol (right) spends most of her day assisting self-represented litigants as they prepare for their civil appeal. 01/01/2008 Appellate Self-Help Clinic Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District — Started in 2007, the Appellate Self-Help Clinic guides indigent, self-represented litigants through the appeal process. It is the first and only self-help appellate clinic in California. The clinic is operated by Public Counsel, in collaboration with the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, and an attorney helps self-represented litigants understand and navigate the appeal process, assists them with paperwork, and, when appropriate, refers them to pro bono attorneys.
Statewide Initiatives Footer