Harvey Ruvin - Clerk of the Courts - Miami-Dade County, Florida

SPIRIT (Simultaneous Paperless Image Retrieval Information Technology)

Project Benefits

  • With the implementation of Calendaring Workbench (CWB) in July of 1995 (Phase I of the SPIRIT Project), the following benefits have been realized:
    • Reduction of the number of clerks in the Traffic Division’s Calendaring Unit from 45 to less than 10.
    • Utilization of calendar and existing courtroom space has been maximized.
    • Timely setting an average of 22,000 cases per week; while maximizing the “Speedy” trial rules.
    • Significant reduction in police officer court overtime and increased officers’ hours on the street through improved setting schedules and efficiencies.
    • Provides various reports for more efficient caseload management.
    • With SPIRIT implementation, the Clerk’s Traffic Division returned 15 full-time and 15 part-time positions to the budget office (for a total of 26.4 FTE’s) and transferred many vacant positions to be used in other areas of the Clerk’s Office, for a total reduction of 40.25 full time (equivalent) positions, from the Traffic Division.
  • The Clerk’s Traffic Division is now handling and processing 94% more citations than in 1997, with a 113% increase in infraction cases scheduled for court, all with 15% less staff
  • Vast improvements in data quality and major reductions in data errors as a result of SPIRIT’s on-line courtroom processing and automated Return Court Information (RCI’s); from an approximate 15% error rate to less than 1%.
  • Reduced the Traffic Division’s use of overtime from a high of $412,649 in FY 96/97 to a low of $150,000 in FY '01/02.
  • All 12,000 documents per day received are entered into SPIRIT, with processing beginning the same day.
  • All traffic clerks have access to all SPIRIT case files simultaneously allowing totally decentralized service to the public at all district locations.
  • All forms are now pre-populated and system generated; and are therefore legible and error-free.
  • Eliminated time spent looking for lost or misplaced files and cases requested by judges or others.
  • Queue Summary Reports provide the supervisors with an important management tool to constantly monitor and redirect the staffing requirements as the incoming workflows change.
  • SPIRIT courtroom case “emergency downloads” allow the Judges to hear all of a defendant’s pending cases (without having to search various locations for paper files) making the courts more efficient.
  • All case file documents are listed chronologically by date in the case file docket for easy access (especially during court).
  • All actions taken by the judge in the courtroom are listed in a system-generated and legible case history, which is presented in chronological order (case history was handwritten on the back of citations prior to SPIRIT).
  • Only one clerk is required to work in each traffic courtroom (reduced from two clerks with paper), allowing the District Courts Division (outlying locations) to move many clerks back to the public service counters and other necessary back office functions.
  • The Tallahassee driver license history accessible in the SPIRIT electronic case file in court is less then 24 hours old, where paper copies provided prior to SPIRIT in the case file could be 30 or more days old.
  • With the touch of one button, the “Disposition Summary” icon (which is available on all traffic cases) the judge can see monies owed for all traffic related cases for each defendant.
  • Disposition Report errors returned to Miami-Dade County by Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) have turned into a mere trickle (prior to SPIRIT these errors were returned by the boxful).
  • The State Attorney's Office no longer loses cases if the paper file can't be located.

Non-Quantifiable Benefits:

  • Improved Quality of Life – Incredible back office changes from paper-driven office to a much cleaner and more manageable paperless environment; and improved quality of life in the courtroom as Judges don’t have to shuffle through paper case files and forms don’t have to be manually completed in court; and judges, state attorneys, defendants, and clerks have their signatures electronically affixed to the appropriate forms.
  • Expanded access to Court facilities - Better decentralized quality of public service which allows the public to use district locations for all traffic-related business (public service counters, attorney rooms, courtrooms, etc.) and not have to go to the central downtown location to review and process files.
  • More efficient Public service Counter activities have been vastly improved with all forms being system generated (less possibility of human error) and fewer returns from driver license customers (after DHSMV visit).
  • Streamlined courtroom processing - Defendants receive their system-prepared (no longer handwritten and hard to read) court orders and instructions-to fulfill their sentences in a post judgment room where clerks can fully explain the details and set up payment plans, if necessary (all outside of the courtroom environment).

According to Judge Slom, Administrative County Criminal/Traffic Court Judge, “the implementation of the SPIRIT system has resulted in the improvement of many of our courtroom operations.  A few of these benefits are as follows:

  • In our paperless courtroom, we now have the ability to have a case placed on the calendar without having to search for the paper file.  This has improved our courtroom efficiency dramatically.
  • We can instantaneously locate all of a defendant’s pending cases and resolve those cases immediately.  This results not only in greater efficiency but also in dramatic savings in time and expense.
  • We no longer have to decipher another judge’s handwriting.  Now, every notation a judge makes in the SPIRIT system is clearly printed and delineated.

"It is my pleasure, as the Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division of County Court, to be part of this innovative leap into the future of the paperless courtroom.”