Clerks of Court study ways to become self-supporting

first_imgClerks of Court study ways to become self-supporting January 1, 2001 Gary Blankenship Senior Editor Regular News Clerks of Court study ways to become self-supporting Senior Editor Florida’s clerks of court collect plenty of money. The problem when it comes to financing the clerks’ operations supporting the court system is they don’t keep much of it.That’s one of the findings of a study commissioned by the Florida Association of Court Clerks, in response to a legislative mandate to find ways clerks’ functions can become self-supporting without relying on funds from various counties.The report, prepared by the association’s Article V Task Force, also contains a proposed fee schedule for various court services. But Beth Allman, director of communications for the association, said that doesn’t mean filing fees and other charges will rise. Any final decision on that, she emphasized, rests with the legislature.The report is part of the legislature’s grappling with a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998 that mandates the state pick up much of the court-related funding now paid for by counties. The legislature has set a schedule to phase in that process beginning with the courts and state attorneys and public defenders, and concluding with the court clerks.All the changes must be completed by July 1, 2004. Last year the legislature passed a bill setting out the schedule and requiring the report from the clerks. The amendment requires that counties pay for facilities, the state pick up all court, state attorney, public defender, jury, conflict attorney and other costs, and that clerks become either self-supporting or get state money instead of relying on county funds.“We try to answer the statutory requirements of what do the clerks do in court-related venues,” Allman said. “What services should be continued, what does that cost, and how can it be funded?”They are simple questions. Allman noted state law now caps civil filing fees, with a couple of exceptions, at $200, although the charges vary from county to county. But of that amount, clerks get only $41, she said. The rest goes to a variety of state and county funds, ranging from law libraries, facilities maintenance, legal aid programs, mediation programs and a small amount to the state’s general revenues.Overall, the report found for the 1998-99 fiscal year, court clerks took in a total of $479.9 million from various fees and charges, but clerks kept only $78 million of that. Meanwhile, their court-related operations cost $305.2 million, meaning only 26 percent of those costs were covered by clerks’ revenues.“The study also determined that the costs are highly dependent on factors outside the clerks’ control, ranging from overhead and salaries varying from one region of the state to another, the cost of multiple courthouse facilities and the staffing thereof, to the types of cases processed,” the report said. “The study documents that of the tasks or services performed by the clerk, two-thirds are those where there is no fee. Additionally, there are areas outside the clerk’s jurisdiction where fees are typically waived, or not collected at all, such as in cases where the person files as an indigent, or where costs are summarily waived by the court, or in criminal cases where no filing fee is assessed.”The study analyzed in depth 13 counties, from the smallest to the largest, and attempted to define a fee structure that would make the clerks’ offices self-sufficient without county funds. Allman stressed the fees are only tentative and may be changed, and that the legislature has the final say. She also noted that while the legislature may approve earmarking more of the various fees and charges for the clerks, it could also reduce the overall fee by eliminating the portion going to the state or counties. Many of the fees have not been changed for 15 years, she added.The preliminary proposal had the clerk’s share of the civil filing fee going from $41 to $88. Registrations of foreign judgments would go from $40 to $90. For dissolutions of marriage, the clerks’ portion would go from $41 to $90, as would product liability, eminent domain, child support and a variety of other cases. Appeals from county court would go from $75 to $150, while appeals from circuit court would go from $50 to $100.Traffic cases would see significant increases. The report proposed that clerks get 5 percent of traffic fines, compared with the 0.5 percent they get now. Fees, however, would not change for pedestrian, nonmoving traffic and moving traffic violations. A new $150 charge for appealing a traffic case would be imposed.In criminal cases, the association proposed slightly raising filing fees for capital and other felony cases and imposing $45 filing fees for misdemeanor and criminal traffic cases. For probate cases, the association proposed slightly more than doubling fees kept by the clerks for filing a trust, clerks would get $90 instead of $40, and $44 instead of $20 for filing an estate.One set of probate proposals has drawn the opposition of the Bar’s Elder Law Section, which has received Board of Governors approval to oppose basing guardianship and estate audit fees on a percentage of the account. Currently clerks get a flat fee of $10 to $150 depending on the size of the guardianship or trust. The report proposed giving them up to three percent, with the amount capped at $2,000 for accounts up to $100,000, $3,500 for those up to $500,000 and a flat $5,000 for those over $500,000.The report noted that overall, court clerks are involved in 11 programs supporting court activities, and that to support those programs, clerks perform 33 “services,” 148 “activities” and 721 “tasks.” Four of those programs civil, criminal, probate and traffic court functions are statutorily required.The other seven, which include family mediation, victim and witness education, teen court, foster care, child support enforcement review, pro se assistance and guardian ad litem, are not uniformly performed by clerks (some are performed locally by other public agencies) and cost only $1.6 million for clerks statewide.The report recommended that the four statutorily required programs be continued, as well as related support functions. The cost of those four programs for 1998-99 was estimated at $305.2 million, including $112.6 for criminal, $104.3 million for civil, $71.8 million for traffic and $16.5 million for probate. Of the $78 million collected, $51.5 million came from filing fees, service charges and other sources from civil cases; $14.5 million came from traffic cases; $6.5 million came from criminal filings and $5.4 million came from probate. Looking at how that money was spent, the report found that $207 million went for salaries and benefits, $68 million for indirect and overhead costs, $24 million for operations and $5.6 million for equipment and other capital expenses.last_img read more

‘He never got to send out his wedding invitations’. Young doctor dies of coronavirus

first_imgPeng “never got to send out his wedding invitations, which are still in his office drawer,” Xinhua said.At least eight medical professionals have been killed by the virus, which experts believe is generally most dangerous for elderly patients and those with underlying conditions.Chinese authorities have not disclosed the age range of fatalities in weeks. More than 2,200 people have now died and more than 75,000 have been infected in China. The youngest known confirmed patient is a baby in Wuhan who tested positive for the virus just 30 hours after birth.Earlier in February, 34-year-old whistleblowing doctor Li Wenliang died of the virus, prompting nationwide grief and anger over how authorities initially punished the Wuhan ophthalmologist’s early efforts to sound the alarm on the outbreak.Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, died Tuesday morning.Chinese authorities say more than 1,700 medical workers have been infected, most in central Hubei province, where Wuhan is located.Staff have faced shortages of facemasks and protective clothing, with some even wearing makeshift bodysuits and continuing to work despite showing respiratory symptoms, health workers have told AFP.People took to social media once more to mourn Peng on Friday, with many expressing shock at his youth.”This is really too tragic: white-haired parents sending off black-haired youth, and his wife-to-be who never got to marry him,” one user on the Weibo microblogging platform wrote. A 29-year-old doctor at the epicenter of China’s new coronavirus outbreak has died from the disease, one of the youngest known fatalities of the epidemic and the latest among medical workers.Peng Yinhua died Thursday after becoming infected while working at Wuhan’s Jiangxia district People’s No. 1 Hospital, official news agency Xinhua reported.The respiratory and critical illness doctor had planned to get married during the Lunar New Year holiday, but postponed his wedding to help treat coronavirus patients.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Fashion shops, civil groups work hand-in-hand to cope with virus impact in Yogyakarta

first_imgEka Apriyani and Yaorohmi Fauzanah are tailors specializing in kebaya for Yogyakarta boutique Santishop Manufacture Indonesia.But instead of seaming delicate fabrics, these days they are busy sewing waterproof fabric to produce hazmat suits for medical personnel handling patients with COVID-19 in the province. Santishop Manufacture Indonesia’s owner, Paksi Raras Alit, said the move was made after she learned about the shortage of such essential items in hospitals. For weeks, social media was flooded with videos of medical personnel wearing rain coats to handle suspected COVID-19 patients, exposing themselves to high risk of infection. Paksi, together with a number of small business owners in Yogyakarta, then decided to produce the protective suits by using the resources they had.  “For the first stage, I personally will produce 100 hazmat suits and subsequently distribute them to hospitals in need for free,” Paksi said last Saturday. In addition to helping medical personnel, some groups are also helping informal workers whose incomes have been heavily affected by the implementation of physical distancing policies to curb virus transmission.   A student distributes food to a seller at Gamping Market in Yogyakarta on March 28. (JP/Bambang Muryanto) Yogyakarta is the province with sixth-largest number of cases and deaths in the country, with 28 cases and two deaths as of Wednesday.  Despite unclear direction from the central government, the local administration and residents have taken the initiative to block roads, close offices and other public areas to prevent crowds that may trigger virus spread. The move, however, has taken its toll to the livelihoods of low- income workers, such a porters and pedicab drivers at traditional markets. Civil society groups and students have formed the Solidaritas Pangan Jogja (Yogyakarta Food Solidarity) movement, through which they distribute food, vitamins, protective masks and hand sanitizer to low-income families at Gamping, Legi and Beringharjo markets.Read also: Public donations for COVID-19 task force in Indonesia top Rp 66.5bLocal artist Iwan Wijono, who operates a homestay and public kitchen, applies a cross subsidy scheme for food items he sells, so customers can buy food at a higher price for donation. The money is then be used to cook hundreds of meals every day for people in need.”The sustainability of this movement depends on people’s donations,” Iwan said. Illustrators and tailors under fashion producers Dagadu, Inteeshirt and Yes No Shop are also working together to produce face masks to be distributed to those who continue to work on the streets to transport people or deliver food. “We have no power to stop COVID-19 transmission on a larger scale but we can obviously do small things to slow it down,” artist Akiq HW said.”Hopefully, what we are doing can inspire more people to help one another during this health crisis,” said activist Budi Hermanto said. (vny)Topics :last_img read more

Tonga eyes prime opportunity for rugby history against Wales

first_imgThe ‘Ikale Tahi will look to make history tonight in Auckland, after eight previous attempts at defeating the Welsh.Their last encounter was four years ago when the Wales won 17-7 in Cardiff.Veteran flanker Nili Latu, skipper Siale Piutau and first five Latiume Fosita are survivors from that match and will start at Eden Park, while Sila Puafisi could add to his 26 caps off the bench.Meanwhile Wales are missing 12 players to the British and Irish Lions.Piutau admits that raises expectations.”We’ve definitely spoken about it as players,” he said.”We’re not trying to add anymore outside factors, any other pressures on ourselves so for us, with the short amount of time that we’ve had to prepare, we’ve just tried to focus on ourselves and our own individual roles and I think that’s how we’re going to approach it.”The captain acknowledged the match could be Tonga’s best opportunity for an historic victory.”Everyone’s saying this is probably our best opportunity to try and get them with the amount of players they’ve got out with British Lions,” Piutau said.”I suppose, for us as well we’ve got a young squad – we’ve got about five uncapped players – so I think it will be pretty even but, if you look back, we’ve never beaten the Welsh. We’ve come close in the past but if anything this will probably be our best opportunity.”The match will be Tonga’s first since their unbeaten Northern Tour in November, where they defeated Spain, USA and Italy, the latter just their fifth victory over a top tier nation.Piutau said that experience would hold them in good stead.”I think confidence-wise it has definitely given us a boost,” he said.”We’ve got a few boys who were involved in that last year and I think just that experience – some of the young boys that experienced that last year – I think they’ve brought some of that into this year, to this campaign, and just sharing that with the new boys that have come along I think they’re excited to get out there and hopefully create a bit of history for ourselves.”The team is boosted by former All Blacks training squad member Ben Tameifuna who is set to finally make his belated debut after a series of false starts.The 25 year old was named in the Tongan squad three years ago before pulling out.He was also selected to play in the Pacific Nations Cup last June but never joined up with the squad.Tameifuna also missed out on the November tour but coach Toutai Kefu is looking forward to finally seeing him on the field.”Yeah it’s about time we got Ben – oh touch wood,” Kefu said”He was supposed to play in November but he got a stomach ulcer – what are the odds of that – so hopefully we can cap him and he’s really passionate about playing for Tonga, which is fantastic.”(Tameifuna) brings a kind of an invisible energy to the team and a lot of the boys respect him,” he said.last_img read more