Vermont Bar Journal
Working Group on Resources, Facilities and Personnel
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNALVolume 35, No. 3Fall 2009 Working Group on Resources, Facilities and PersonnelReport to the Vermont Commission on Judicial Operation
Justice John Dooley, Commissioner Stephen Dale, Joan Gamble, Richard Marron
This working group has two interrelated functions. The frst is to propose positions to the commission with respect to judicial personnel and facilities. The second is to develop a budget proposal that meets the requirement of the Commission's mandate to show annual savings of at least 1 million dollars. The work of this working group was informed by the results of the focus groups and driven by the principles adopted by the Commission, most notably providing access to quality judicial services in an effective and effcient manner.
As has been identifed in commission discussions, the structure of four separate courts per county, each with independent staff and a court manager is greatly ineffcient. It produces excessive middle management and does not facilitate good service to the public. Indeed, it facilitates duplication and overlap that signifcantly increases the cost of judicial operations while limiting opportunities to improve public service in a cost-effcient way. Thus, the working group supports the policy of consolidating the four courts into one superior court for purposes of using personnel resources while maintaining some public separation of divisions to ensure public trust and confdence.
Full and necessary consolidation can be achieved only if the staff of the current superior court, whose salaries and expenses are currently paid from property tax revenues at the county level, are brought into the state system as state employees subject to the administrative control of the court administrator. In addition, the current superior court clerks, who are state employees, would be hired and supervised by the court administrator rather than by the Assistant Judges of the County.
Similarly, full and necessary consolidation requires that the probate registers and staff, who are also state employees , be placed under the administrative control of the court administrator rather than under control of the probate judge.
Once all the local staff are under the court administrator, it will be possible to manage the work at the local court level through one clerk and appropriate staff. This clerk would have the powers and responsibilities now spread among the clerks of the superior, district and family courts and the probate register. Staff would be assigned to the divisions of the court, and the clerk could delegate powers and...