Chief Judge Evans introduces new performance measurement initiative
Released on 5/8/2012 4:03:09 PM

New initiative to enhance fairness, justice, transparency and efficiency
in the courts of Cook County

Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans today announced his plan to implement a performance measurement initiative as part of his continuing efforts to make the court system more fair, just, transparent, efficient, and accountable.

"The question here is simple: How can the court build upon its current achievements and commitment to fairness and justice?" said Chief Judge Evans. "The answer lies in objectively measuring the progress that has been made against the goals we have set, while continuing to set new goals to better serve the public’s needs. I believe the use of a vigorous performance measurement initiative will allow us to do that."

Chief Judge Evans also announced that he has enlisted the resources of an independent, national court improvement organization to assist in the initiative. The National Center for State Courts, based in Williamsburg, Virginia, has agreed to work with the Circuit Court of Cook County on using the NCSC’s CourTools, a balanced and realistic framework of court performance measurements. Major performance areas to be examined include access and fairness, case flow management, and effective use of resources.

"This initiative will provide the court with the means to better track the progress of its reform efforts and to make adjustments where appropriate," said Chief Judge Evans. He noted that recent reforms to be included in the analysis are the expansion of pretrial assessments of defendants and alternatives to incarceration for defendants charged with nonviolent crimes, the reallocation of cases from one suburban district to another to relieve overcrowding, and the scheduling of court calls by staggering them throughout the day to increase efficiency and make more effective use of court resources.

Evans continued, "CourTools will also assist us in measuring the success of upcoming initiatives that include the establishment of an Elder Law Division, the expansion of staggered court calls, increased access to the Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program, and a review of the court’s leased office space as a means to reduce costs to the county."

The Circuit Court’s use of CourTools complements efforts by Cook County to incorporate private-sector performance measurement practices into government administration.

"I recognize the value of performance management systems and support their use. However, while I applaud President Preckwinkle and the members of the County Board, the Circuit Court, as part of an independent branch of state government, will develop and conduct its own performance analysis process, in accordance with the Illinois State Constitution (Ill. Const., Art. II, Section 1) and the Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion in Orenic v. Illinois State Labor Relations Board, 127 Ill. 2d 453 (1989)," said Chief Judge Evans.

The National Center for State Courts is a non-profit court reform organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Chief Justice of the United States and the Conference of Chief Justices, the National Center provides leadership, research, consulting, education, and training to the state courts.