The Third Branch
PPAC identifies funding, access among priorities
By Shelly Cern, Court Operations
At its November meeting the Wisconsin Supreme Court's Planning and Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC) gave the following issues its top priority for the 2012-14 biennium, based on the Planning Subcommittee's report Critical Issues: Planning Priorities for the Wisconsin Court System 2012-2014:
- Court System Funding
- Evidence-Based Practices
- Access to Justice
- Public Confidence
Four major themes continue to pervade each of the critical issues: budget constraints, technology, outreach and education, and collaboration. At its January meeting PPAC participated in a prioritization exercise to consider each recommended action within the report in regards to the feasibility of implementation and its importance to the court system. The initial list of recommended steps was included in the Critical Issues 2012-2014 Report. Below is the final list of priorities as adopted by PPAC.
Items considered very important to the court system and with available resources to implement:
- PPAC should reconvene a PPAC subcommittee on court funding to coordinate with the Chief Judge Subcommittee on Budgetary Planning, move forward with county audit information, determine how changes in court fees and surcharges have impacted other funding sources and analyze the list of unfunded court system needs.
- PPAC should identify effective strategies to improve communication about court system funding with the other two branches of government.
- The PPAC Effective Justice Strategies Subcommittee should disseminate the inventory of offender service programs available to the courts that was contained in the Enhancing Public Safety: Effective Justice Strategies in Wisconsin report, and update the inventory annually.
- PPAC should collaborate with the Director of State Courts Office to provide technical assistance and continued training for judges on evidence-based practices.
- PPAC should collaborate with the Office of Judicial Education to train the judiciary, staff, and system partners on applying evidence-based practices in criminal, juvenile, children, and family court cases.
The following are important to the court system and resources may be available to implement them:
- PPAC should conduct a statewide survey that measures public knowledge and perceptions of the court system.
- PPAC should publicize existing outreach programs and provide all judges and justices with accessible, up-to-date information on outreach programs.
- PPAC should increase the reach and effectiveness of outreach programs with court-system partners.
Items considered important to the court system but resources are not likely available to implement:
- PPAC should collaborate with the Wisconsin State Law Library to build on the public library partnership initiatives.
- PPAC should document and evaluate county level programming for self-represented litigants.
- PPAC works with its subcommittees and the Director of State Courts to implement these priorities.
The next meeting of PPAC will be joint with the Supreme Court. This meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon April 16 in Madison. The Critical Issues 2012-2014 Report and further information about PPAC, its subcommittees and initiatives can be found at: www.wicourts.gov/about/committees/ppac.htm
PPAC Limited Scope Representation Subcommittee
In November, the Limited Scope Representation Subcommittee presented its Phase II recommendations to PPAC in the form of a draft Supreme Court rule petition and supporting memorandum. Specifically the subcommittee proposed rules on how a lawyer can provide limited legal services including the service of court documents, communications with opposing counsel, and assistance with drafting court documents. The rules provide guidance and help to ensure that limited scope representation supports and protects the interests of the client and the lawyer, both procedurally and ethically. PPAC expressed concerns about how the proposed rules apply in some criminal areas and felt the subcommittee's proposal needed to address this. The subcommittee is working with members of the criminal bar to further research these areas and to develop a recommendation for consideration by the subcommittee and PPAC. A revised petition will be presented to PPAC at its April meeting.
Questions about PPAC and its subcommittees may be addressed to Bonnie MacRitchie in the Office of Court Operations, (608) 261-7550 or email@example.com.