Chief Justice Mike Heavican will travel to the Red Willow County Courthouse in McCook for an up-close look at the recently completed fine collection pilot project in the 11th Judicial District*. Heavican and area court staff will meet in the courthouse at 3:30 p.m. on August 14, 2013.
Under the direction of County Court Judge Anne Paine, the 11th Judicial District became the site for testing new procedures that will encourage compliance with financial penalties. These included using special notification procedures, setting time to pay cases for court review, and utilizing shared staff resources within the district to enhance enforcement.
Chief Justice Heavican will be sent text messages by court staff with fine payment reminders and be shown an inside view of the system by Clerk Magistrates Linda Smith, Hitchcock County Court and Deb League, Dundy County Court, who helped implement the pilot project. Red Willow County Clerk Magistrate Gretchen Wiebe, area Chief Probation Officer Lonnie Folchert, and Judge Paine will be on hand to answer questions.
This pilot project focused on misdemeanor cases where the defendant had been placed on probation and ordered to pay fines, fees, and costs as a condition of the sentence.
With the assistance of the National Center for State Courts, Judge Paine and court staff designed and implemented a pilot project to improve compliance with court-ordered financial obligations in probation cases which will have a positive impact on collections in all criminal cases. In addition to increasing compliance, the judge and her staff were interested in ways they could better utilize staff and resources in rural areas to improve system effectiveness. The stated goals of the project were:
- Increasing compliance with payment of fines and costs in probation cases
- Testing the viability of court staff working remotely from other counties
- Determining the effectiveness of new collections methods and processes
This project has been published by the National Center for State Courts and distributed to courts across the nation. The National Center issued recommendations including expansion of the project to all eligible individuals, the refinement of procedures, and expansion of the project to other areas of the state.
* The 11th Judicial District is the largest district in the state, consisting of Arthur, Chase, Dawson, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Gosper, Hayes, Hitchcock, Hooker, Keith, Lincoln, Logan, McPherson, Perkins, Red Willow, & Thomas Counties.