Judicial Council Hears How Online Tool for Requesting Fine and Fee Reductions Helps Courts and Litigants
March 30, 2023
At its March 24 business meeting, the Judicial Council received a report on the MyCitations program. This program, launched in 2019 as a pilot project in a few select courts, is an online tool that allows people with infraction violations to request a reduction in what they owe. The MyCitations tool is now in 21 superior courts around the state. The Judicial Council anticipates adding the remaining 37 courts and achieving statewide implementation by June 30, 2024.
The report states that as of Jan. 1, 2023:
- More than 45,000 litigants submitted over 66,000
ability-to-pay requests, accounting for more than $41 million in
outstanding fines and fees.
- Courts granted more than $20 million in fine and fee
- In a study of more than 12,000 cases, successful repayment
topped 60% when fines and fees were reduced below $300.
- Nearly 46% of litigants who used the tool reported they receive public benefits and just over 88% reported incomes at or below the poverty line.
The report also contains results from the MyCitations program’s pilot period, which ran from April 2019 through July 2021. That evaluation found litigants are more likely to repay in full as the amount ordered decreases—cases granted a reduction had a 61% success rate for full repayment, while cases denied relief had only a 29% success rate.
Other items on the March 24 council meeting agenda included:
Funding to Help Public Listen to Courtroom Proceedings: The council approved allocating funding to support Assembly Bill 716, which requires an audio stream or telephonic means for listening to courtroom proceedings when the courthouse is physically closed to public. Per the funding proposal, 28 courts will receive funding to make audio upgrades to courthouses built before the year 2000, which accounts for approximately 1,775, or 85%, of courtrooms in the state.
Terms of Commitment to Secure Youth Treatment Facilities: The council approved a rule of court to implement Welfare and Institutions Code section 875(h), which required the council to create a matrix of terms of commitment meeting the developmental and treatment needs of youth. Judicial officers can choose from this matrix when ordering youth to a Secure Youth Treatment Facility. Input on the matrix was gathered from a diverse working group that included attorneys, probation, behavioral health, and youth advocates and service providers.
The complete meeting agenda and council reports are posted to the California Courts Meeting Information Center. The center also contains an archived webcast of the entire meeting broken out by topic.