Kleps FAQs

Ralph N. Kleps Award Program Postponed

Posted May 09, 2012
The 2012-2013 Kleps Award cycle has been postponed. This will allow the Judicial Council to assess the available resources that will be available for this and other programs next year and make any changes that might be necessary. For more information, contact: innovations@jud.ca.gov.

From 1991–2012, the Ralph N. Kleps Award for Improvement in the Administration of the Courts recognized innovators committed to improving access to justice by solving common problems. The program grew in popularity since its inception in 1991. But in 2012, with the California courts in a fiscal crisis that led to a reduction in staff, the program was indefinitely put on hold.

Dozens of Kleps-award-winning programs are still active in California's appellate and trial courts. These programs were started by a person or a group of people who saw an issue and resolved it. Some of these programs, including the JusticeCorps program initiated by the Los Angeles Superior Court, have expanded statewide.

cover of innovations book

Innovations in the California Courts
Profiles of 2010-2011 Ralph N. Kleps Award recipients are highlighted in this online publication. The resource includes a retrospective of the 20th anniversary of the Kleps Award program, as well as a look at statewide initiatives. Use the Table of Contents to view the publication online or download the publication (10MB). To request a printed copy, e-mail innovations@jud.ca.gov.

Get answers to questions about the Kleps Award process. If you don’t find what you're looking for, please contact AOC staff.

Each awarded court receives a commemorative plaque presented in a special ceremony held at the court.

A total of up to 11 awards may be recommended to the Judicial Council in each award cycle. The Kleps Award Committee has full discretion to make recommendations from any of the size categories and will not disqualify a court program for this reason alone. Conversely, the committee may elect to recommend fewer than the allotted number in any and all categories.

No. AOC funding does not disqualify your program. However, the court must be the driving force behind the program and must be the originator of the concept and/or implementation of the program.

Nominations are assessed and evaluated by an independent committee whose members are appointed by the Chief Justice. The Kleps Award Committee comprises representatives from northern, southern, and central California. All segments of the court community are represented—from large courts and small—including appellate justices, judges with administrative responsibilities, court executive officers, and court program managers.

Please note: The 2012-2013 Ralph N. Kleps Awardc cycle has been postponed. This will allow the Judicial Council to assess the resources that will be available for this and other programs next year and make any changes that might be necessary.  For more information, please contact: innovations@jud.ca.gov.




No, only those applicants that initially meet each of the criteria, as outlined in the nomination materials will receive a site visit. Early in the process, the committee will contact courts whose programs may for some reason be ineligible for consideration.

This means that a California court is the leader of the project. Even when working closely on a collaborative project with other community and justice partners, Kleps-nominated programs must be court driven. For example, a weeklong teacher civics education program organized by a local nonprofit including one day of observing the court and touring the courthouse would not qualify for a Kleps nomination.

Access the current plan, Justice in Focus: The Strategic Plan for California’s Judicial Branch, 2006–2012 that lists the six goals in detail.

The Kleps Award Committee supports the recommendations of the Elkins Family Law Task Force, accepted by the Judicial Council at its April 23, 2010, meeting. Courts that are able to demonstrate efforts to align resources based on needs in family law and to implement the Task Force’s recommendations may receive special consideration in this award cycle. Information regarding the Elkins Family Law Task Force and its recommendations may be found at www.courts.ca.gov/elkins.htm.

Program efficiency and cost savings are always important factors that the Kleps Award Committee considers in its evaluation of court programs. But in this current economic climate, which requires the courts to do more with much less, the committee wishes to encourage and celebrate these efforts, in addition to sharing success stories with other courts.

Innovative is defined by the Kleps Award Committee as creating or significantly enhancing a concept, goal, and/or objective that improves the performance and practices of the court relative to size, community, and available resources.

This means that—to the best of the nominee’s knowledge—no other substantially similar program has been launched by another court. In determining if a program is innovative, you must put out queries to all applicable AOC listserves. (A complete listing of listserves is available at Listserve Central, which requires Serranus access.) Also check the Innovations website to see previous Kleps Award recipient programs, check in with AOC staff, or find information about programs in other California courts.

Innovation is NOT:

  • Creating a project that doesn’t solve a problem or add value to the court system
  • Project maintenance or upgrades to existing technology
  • An excellent program—BUT nothing new—or a significant enhancement of an existing program concept, design, or implementation

Innovation is NOT JUST:

  • Being the first
  • Following the law
  • Collaborating
  • Making good business decisions

As an example, Law Day events have been conducted in many locations. However, a Law Day program may be eligible to apply for a Kleps Award if it is truly innovative and has substantially different components from other Law Day programs in California. As a counterexample, the implementation of online technology may not be eligible for a Kleps Award if substantially similar technology is already in place in another court.

Consider to what extent other courts could mirror your program—either in total (transferrable) or in a scaled-back or even broader manner (replicable).

Transferability means that other courts could take your program as is and reproduce it without significant changes. Consider your court’s capacity and willingness to share information about the program. Is there an electronic template that other courts can adjust for their needs?

Replicability means that other courts can learn from and reproduce a Kleps Award recipient’s program, taking into account factors such as the need for a program, program costs, staffing requirements, and program materials. Are you able to easily document your program planning, evaluation, and outcomes so that other courts can reference them as a model? These are essential tools in disseminating information to and supporting other courts in their efforts to replicate your program.

Sustainability refers to the program’s potential to continue to exist after the pilot period and should also be considered a factor of replicability. Was your program funded from a one-time grant or award? Are resources built into your court’s budget and staffing model to support program continuity? Does the program have the capacity to respond to changing financial and human resources scenarios at your court?

A separate tip sheet has been developed that gives tangible advice about program evaluation.