Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
361 Rowe Boulevard
F Todd Silver 410-260-1488
Sally Rankin 410-260-1488
ANNAPOLIS, MD (October 9, 2003)— The District Court of Maryland was honored yesterday for its efforts to improve customer service. The Mid-Atlantic Association of Court Managers (MAACM) presented the John Neufeld Court Achievement Award to the District Court in recognition of its “Excellence in Public Service Initiative,” a state-wide program designed to improve citizens access to and understanding about the District Court through public information materials and enhanced service skills on the part of its employees.
The John Neufeld Award recognizes an individual or a group of individuals who developed or implemented a significant or unique educational program or court management system in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Launched in 2001, the District Court’s “Excellence in Public Service Initiative” was designed to focus the attention of staff on the various aspects of customer service and the importance of creating a court that anticipates the needs of litigants and other involved parties. The past two years, staff from all levels of the Court has participated in several workgroups covering customer service—which emphasized effective communication skills—improving the physical aspects of courthouse buildings, and techniques to advance the efficiencies of court processes and communications with the public.
“The intent of the initiative was to let our entire staff see their jobs through the eyes of the citizens who use District Court services and empower them to become involved in making improvements,” said Patti Platt, Chief Clerk of the District Court of Maryland. “We wanted to make sure that our staff understood that it is an expectation that we treat all citizens with respect and dignity and that the court is here to serve and assist the public.”
In addition to providing training for the 1,300 District Court employees, a variety of supplemental programs were implemented to support the initiative. Within the past two years, the Court has employed a new Intranet to improve communications with staff, has made many of its forms more user friendly and/or downloadable from the Court’s website, has improved the process of recording court proceedings, and has introduced more than a dozen new informative brochures on a range of subjects including small claims actions, landlord/tenant disputes and civil and criminal complaints.
“The District Court handles more than two million cases every year, so for many people it is the only experience they may have with the judicial system,” said James N. Vaughan, Chief Judge of the District Court. “It is important that everyone who has business before the court understands its processes and procedures. Our challenge is to provide them with essential information that is both accessible and clearly understood.”
For more information about the District
Court, please visit the Court’s website at www.courts.state.md.us/district.
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