Court's Performance Measures, CourTools
The General Division of the Common Pleas Court has been committed to providing transparency into the performance of its operations for a number of years.
The Common Pleas Court was the first in the State of Ohio to publish statistics for individual Judges, Magistrates, and for court system processes. In an effort to further expand transparency into its operations, the Court is implementing a set of nationally recognized performance measures, called CourTools.
These performance measures provide courts a method to collect and analyze relevant data to evaluate their own performance and compare themselves with other courts. This process provides a framework for the managing of limited resources in a way that monitors key areas of court operations to assist the Court to better serve the public.
The Court has completed work on six of the measures:
Access and Fairness, Clearance Rates for civil and criminal cases, Time to Disposition for criminal cases, Age of Active Pending Cases for criminal cases, Trial Date Certainty for civil and criminal cases and Effective Use of Jurors. These reports can be found below.
This web page will be updated in the future as additional measures are developed.
Information about the ten measures and the relevant reports can be found below:
Access and Fairness
Ratings of court users on the court's accessibility and its treatment of customers in terms of fairness, equality, and respect.
Many assume that "winning" or "losing" is what matters most to citizens when dealing with the courts. However, research consistently shows that positive perceptions of court experience are shaped more by court users' perceptions of how they are treated in court, and whether the court's process of making decisions seems fair. This measure provides a tool for surveying all court users about their experience in the courthouse. Comparison of results by location, division, type of customer, and across courts can inform and improve court management practices.
The number of outgoing cases as a percentage of the number of incoming cases.
Clearance rate measures whether the court is keeping up with its incoming caseload. If cases are not disposed in a timely manner, a backlog of cases awaiting disposition will grow. This measure is a single number that can be compared within the court for any and all case types, from month to month and year to year, or between one court and another. Knowledge of clearance rates by case type can help a court pinpoint emerging problems and indicate where improvements may be made. Courts should aspire to clear (i.e., dispose of) at least as many cases as have been filed/reopened/reactivated in a period by having a clearance rate of 100 percent or higher.
Time to Disposition
The percentage of cases disposed or otherwise resolved within established time frames.
This measure, used in conjunction with Measure 2 Clearance Rates and Measure 4 Age of Active Pending Caseload, is a fundamental management tool that assesses the length of time it takes a court to process cases. It compares a court’s performance with local, state, or national guidelines for timely case processing. When the underlying data conform to the State Court Guide to Statistical Reporting, the measure takes into account periods of inactivity beyond the court control (e.g., absconded defendants, cases suspended pending decision on an appeal) and provides a framework for meaningful measurement across all case types.
Age of Active Pending Caseload
The age of the active cases that are pending before the court, measured as the number of days from filing until the time of measurement.
Cases filed but not yet disposed make up the court's pending caseload. Having a complete and accurate inventory of active pending cases as well as tracking their number and age is important because this pool of cases potentially requires court action. Examining the age of pending cases makes clear, for example, the number and type of cases drawing near or about to surpass the court's case processing time standards. Once the age spectrum of cases is determined, the court can focus attention on what is required to ensure cases are brought to completion within reasonable timeframes.
Trial Date Certainty
The number of times cases disposed by trial are scheduled for trial.
A court’s ability to hold trials on the first date they are scheduled to be heard (trial date certainty) is closely associated with timely case disposition. This measure provides a tool to evaluate the effectiveness of calendaring and continuance practices. For this measure, "trials" includes jury trials, bench trials (also known as non-jury trials or court trials), and adjudicatory hearings in juvenile cases.
Reliability and Integrity of Case Files
The percentage of files that can be retrieved within established time standards, and that meet established standards for completeness and accuracy of contents.
A reliable and accurate case file system is fundamental to the effectiveness of day-to-day court operations and fairness of judicial decisions. The maintenance of case records directly affects the timeliness and integrity of case processing. This measure provides information regarding (a) how long it takes to locate a file, (b) whether the file’s contents and case summary information match up, and (c) the organization and completeness of the file.
Collection of Monetary Penalties
Work on this performance measure has been delayed because the National Center for State Courts is revising Measure 7.
Effective Use of Jurors
Juror Yield is the number of citizens selected for jury service who are qualified and available to serve, expressed as a percentage of the total number of prospective jurors summoned. Juror Utilization is the rate at which qualified and available jurors are used at least once in a trial or voir dire, expressed as a percentage of the total number of qualified and available jurors.
The objective of this measure is to minimize the amount of effort expended to summon and qualify prospective jurors and to maximize the rate at which they are used to select juries.
Court Employee Satisfaction
Ratings of court employees assessing the quality of the work environment and relations between staff and management.
Committed and loyal employees have a direct impact on a court’s performance. This measure is a powerful tool for surveying employee opinion on whether staff have the materials, motivation, direction, sense of mission, and commitment to do quality work. Knowing how employees perceive the workplace is essential to facilitate organizational development and change, assess teamwork and management style,enhance job satisfaction, and thus, improve service to the public.
Cost Per Case
The average cost of processing a single case, by case type.
Monitoring cost per case, from year to year, provides a practical means to evaluate existing case processing practices and to improve court operations. Cost per case forges a direct connection between how much is spent and what is accomplished. This measure can be used to assess return on investment in new technologies, reengineering of business practices, staff training, or the adoption of “best practices”. It also helps determine where court operations may be slack, including inefficient procedures or underutilized staff.