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Court Payment Center Honored

Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Minnesota Judicial Branch has been honored for its innovative Court Payment Center with the Paul H. Chapman Award from the Foundation for Improvement of Justice. The award is given out each year to recognize and reward individuals or organizations whose innovative programs and work have made improvements in the justice system.  The award will be presented at the Foundation’s awards banquet on September 24.

The Court Payment Center project “is recognized for centralizing the processing of payable citations, such as traffic violations, ordinance violations, or Department of Natural Resources violations, for 85 of Minnesota’s 87 counties,” the Foundation said in announcing the award. “When fully implemented (following the transition of Hennepin and Ramsey counties in the next several years), it will be responsible for processing two-thirds of the state’s caseload and receipting approximately $100,000,000 in revenue annually.”

“We’re gratified that the Foundation recognized the innovative nature of the Court Payment Center,” ­­­­said Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea.  “Creating a virtual, centralized payment center for the state has been one of the most ambitious and complex process reengineering efforts undertaken by the Minnesota Judicial Branch.”

The Court Payment Center allows the Judicial Branch to process the approximately one million payable citations filed each year in district courts with fewer staff, allows for the payment of fines by credit card through the Judicial Branch Website or over the phone, automates the calculation and distribution of fees to state and local government, and automates the referral of overdue fines to the Judicial Branch’s collections agent. “We expect it will also lead to an increase in collections of fine payments, money that is badly needed by state and local governments,” said State Court Administrator Sue Dosal.

Before the creation of the Court Payment Center, citations were processed manually by clerks in 85 local courthouses. Most of the work is now done by Payment Center employees working from remote offices. The project included the creation of a toll-free, statewide call center staffed by employees also working from remote offices.  By June 30 of this year, 397,000 calls had been placed to the information and payment number, and more than 107,000 callers had been personally assisted by call center staff. “That’s work that is no longer taking up the time of the staff in local courts, freeing them up to work on higher-priority casework,” ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Dosal said.

The Foundation for Improvement of Justice is a private, non-profit, Atlanta-based organization founded in 1984 for the purpose of encouraging the improvement of local, state, and federal systems of justice within the United States.