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Report of the Judiciary


News from the Core Support Units



Judicial Programs and Processes Research Unit


The Judicial Programs and Process Research Unit supports the mission of the Court by providing statistical analysis and evaluation of Court services and programs to determine progress towards meeting defined Court organizational goals and objectives, which assists in the effective management of the Judicial System by promoting accountability, responsiveness, and continuous improvement throughout the Court organization. The Judicial Programs and Process Research Unit manages and facilitates the SMAART Performance Management Program, a performance-based planning, measurement, and improvement process which assists and supports judicial staff in developing, monitoring, and communicating the results of projects that are aligned with the Court’s strategic plan.


Legal Research Services Unit


Legal Research Services provides legal support to the circuit and associate judges, as well as to the Executive Director and each of the six Division Directors. For the judges, the Unit performs legal research and writing on a variety of civil and criminal topics. In addition, the Unit regularly compiles, edits, and updates bench materials for the Courts. Further, the Unit provides legal support to judicial committees and assists with local rules, Court forms, and new legislation. For the Executive Director and the division directors, the Unit provides legal assistance in a variety of areas. The Unit anticipates and evaluates new legislation and prepares policy recommendations. The Unit acts as a legal liaison to the other Directors and considers issues unique to their division.





SMAART Performance Management Program


The SMAART Performance Management Program of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Lake County is a process of organizational performance measures and continuous improvement efforts, which ensure that Court activities are aligned with the Court’s strategic plan and are being conducted in an effective and efficient manner. Originally conceived strictly as a performance measurement program in 2000, the SMAART Program was expanded during 2008-09 to encompass performance improvement activities. Adopted from kaizen and lean government management principles, large-scale and extensive organizational changes are replaced by initiating smaller-scale projects and conducting program evaluations, which can be rapidly adapted as new improvements are suggested based on the availability of process and outcome data.


Early in 2010, Directors and Management Teams from each of the divisions developed a number of projects to be initiated as part of the SMAART Performance Management Program’s 500-Day Plan. The current 500-Day Plan began July 1, 2010 and will conclude at the end of 2011.  Quarterly updates monitor programs in terms of progress in meeting pre-determined task deadlines. At the conclusion of the project, process and outcome statistics are used to generate program snapshots or other reports. An example of such a project was the completion of a new Research Activities Policy in December 2010 which addressed research activities conducted by external organizations within the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit.


Initial SMAART Projects List


 Division of Administrative Services


  • Standardized Exit Process for Court Employees
  • Evaluation of the TONE (Training of New Employees) Program
  • Performance Standards for Substance Abuse Providers
  • Contingency Plan for Staff Reductions


 Division of Adult Probation Services


  • Evaluation of the Administrative Sanctions Program
  • Evaluation of the Drug Testing Program
  • Policy and Procedures for External Research Activities
  • Implementation of Caseload Explorer System (Internal Database)


 Division of Judicial Information and Technology


  • Courts Daily Project (Staff Intranet Site)
  • Disaster Recovery Plan


 Division of Judicial Operations


  • Court Forms Project
  • Lake County Visitation Center – Neutral Exchange and Visitation Site
  • Judicial Operations Staff Cross-Training


 Division of Juvenile Probation and Detention Services


  • Evaluation of the APEX Digital Learning System
  • Juvenile Offender Compliance with Court Attendance and Fees
  • Juvenile Low-Risk Supervision – Group Reporting Project
  • Pre-Employment Program


 Division of Psychological Services


  • Juvenile Offender Domestic Violence Assessment and Treatment
  • Evaluation of Group Psychological Testing
  • Women FIRST – Group and Referral Services for Women Probationers


The new SMAART Performance Management Program was officially unveiled at a presentation by unit staff at the Illinois Probation and Court Services Association (IPSCA) 2010 Spring Training Conference on April 29th. Following this presentation, training was conducted for staff throughout the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit on the background and role of all employees in the SMAART Program. Staff feedback to the SMAART presentations was largely positive, with 64.5% indicating that the overall training session was very favorable and that 61.4% planned to use the information in future work projects (each item rated as 7 or greater on a 10-point scale).


The SMAART Performance Measurement Program has been the subject of two recent publications of the National Association for Court Management (NACM). A brief overview of the program was included in the Spring 2010 edition of Court Express, and a more detailed examination of the program was spotlighted in an article in Court Manager in Winter 2010.


 Court Users Surveys


The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit is committed to the continuous improvement of programs and services that it provides to court users and the general public. Towards this end, the Court has conducted surveys for general court users, summoned jurors, law library patrons, Kids’ Korner parents, divorcing parents and participants in the arbitration process. In 2010, the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit also conducted two rounds of a Court Services Survey for probations and defendants having direct contact with staff in the divisions of Adult Probation Services, Juvenile Probation and Detention Services, Psychological Services, and the Compliance Unit (Judicial Operations). The results of these surveys are available on the Court’s website.


Court Employee Engagement Survey


The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit completed its fifth consecutive year of conducting a circuit-wide survey of non-judicial employees in November 2010. Court Managers recognize the talent, experience, and dedication to quality public service that is embodied by court employees.  Knowing how employees perceive their workplace is, therefore, important for court managers in evaluating teamwork and management styles, in order to best facilitate organizational development. The Court Employee Satisfaction Survey is a research tool which has been designed to assess the opinions of court employees on whether they have the materials, motivation, direction, sense of mission, and commitment to do quality work. The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit is committed to the belief that enhancing court employee job satisfaction ultimately leads to better service to the public.


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News from the Core Support Units