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Judicial Branch to survey court access, fairness

The Minnesota Judicial Branch wants to know what you think about how it conducts business. It hopes to hear from your clients, too. And your client’s mom.

The branch has launched its first statewide Access and Fairness Survey since 2013. It will be conducted in all 87 Minnesota counties over the next four months.

Paper forms will available at courthouses, which anyone can fill out and offer feedback on courthouse operations, according to a news release.

The survey will let visitors provide feedback on things like whether they feel they met language barriers, whether they felt safe in court, whether courthouse hours aren’t working for them and a range of other subjects.

The survey is not meant to be a Yelp-like review individual judges or court administration staff. But it does hope to gauge whether people feel they are being dealt with equally and with respect.

Litigants and defendants, plus their friends and family, are welcome to fill out the survey, the branch said in a press release announcing the four-month effort. Victims, witnesses, attorneys, service counter users, jurors and anyone else who uses the court system also can participate.

The goal is to improve courthouse operations, ensure accountability and enhance public trust and confidence in the judiciary, the branch says.

“We need to hear from Minnesotans about their experiences so we know what is working and how to better meet court users’ needs,” Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea said in a written news release.

Alyssa Siems Roberson, the Judicial Branch’s director of public affairs, said the survey’s duration will vary county by county. Counties with high participation rates might close it down early after collecting a critical mass of responses. Smaller counties might keep the survey open the entire four months. It will wrap up on March 29, 2019.

During the survey period, special tables with survey forms, a return box and pens will be set up in courthouses. Signage and staff will direct people to them.

In addition to the general courthouse surveys, the branch will separately survey Court Payment Center users, both over the phone and online. Sometime early next year, yet another survey will be placed online. There users will be able to rate their experience with the Judicial Branch’s website.

The results will provide grist for the branch’s next Performance Measures report. The annual report is released each September.


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