Bump's Barnstable Superior Court audit reveals inconsistencies

State auditor: probation office failed to monitor fee collection, tally community service hours

A recent audit of Barnstable Superior Court released by the Office of State Auditor Suzanne Bump (OSA) reveals the need for improvements within the Probation and Clerk's Offices. The 22-page audit is a review of records from July 1, 2012 to  September 30, 2013.

The purpose of the audit was to determine whether the Probation and Clerk's Offices were properly documenting, collecting, reporting and disbursing probation supervision fees, legal counsel fees and bail funds.

In the Probation Office, auditors found inconsistences in the collection of probation fees and the tallying of community service hours. Hearings and notices of surrender were also not being consistently handled, according to auditors. The Probation Office is required to hold hearings when probationers fall two months behind in paying their monthly probation supervision fees. Those hearings, during which the probationer's ability and willingness to pay are reviewed, were not being scheduled on a consistent basis, according to auditors.

Bump's office also found that the Barnstable Superior Court Probation Office was not keeping an accurate record of community service hours performed, thereby making it difficult to determine remaining hours owed and if court orders were being met in a timely manner.

Auditors also discovered shortcomings in the Clerk's Office where the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) was not being notified about defendants who failed to pay required counseling fees within 60 days of appointment. 

Although auditors found inconsistencies in reporting, they also found that all cash received by either office was properly reported to the Trial Court, that all bail funds were disbursed properly, that all unclaimed fund were remitted to the Office of the State Treasurer and that bail was withheld when legal counsel fees were not paid. Internal controls to safeguard evidence and case files were also found to be adequate, according to the report.

Lack of secure storage space at the courthouse was also noted in the audit. According to the OSA the buildings are controlled by Barnstable County Commissioners and changes must be made through them. Bump encouraged Barnstable Superior Court and the Barnstable County Commissioners to continue to work together to find a secure solution, the release said.

Read the official audit report here.

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