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Public Defender Report

Public Defender Report

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Published by kperry5436
Report that helped oust Shelia Kyle-Reno
Report that helped oust Shelia Kyle-Reno

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Published by: kperry5436 on Jul 03, 2012
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05/13/2014

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March29,2012CommissionerKathyBrinkmanCommissionerLouisSirkinCommissionerJohnIssenmannCommissionerRossWrightCommissionerWilliamGallagherRe:HamiltonCountyPublicDefender'sOfficeDearCommissioners:InDecember2011,CommissionerKathyBrinkman,calledmeonbehalfoftheHamiltonCountyPublicDefenderCommission.Duringthecall,CommissionerBrinkmanprovidedsomehistoryregardingtheHamiltonCountyPublicDefender'sOffice.IlearnedthattheHamiltonCountyPublicDefender'SOfficehasbeenseenasanunderachievingofficeandthattherewereorganizationsdemandingchangeinthatofficeincludingchangesinleadershipandmanagement.Reportedly,statefundingfortheOfficewasinjeopardyifremedialactionsweren'ttaken.Ifurtherlearnedthatinresponsetothesecallsforchange,theHamiltonCountyPublicDefenderCommissionhadrecentlyreplacedlongtimepublicdefenderLouisStrigariandhadhiredSheliaKyle-Renoinhisplace.TheCommissionhadgivenMs.Kyle-Renothechargeof"changingthecultureoftheoffice."Overtheensuingtenmonths,theCommissionbecameawareofconsiderabletensionanddiscordwithintheOfficeandwasseekinganindependentassessmentastowhetherthislevelofdissatisfactionandunrestwasanexpectedbi-productofculturechange,oriftherewereflawsinthenewmanagementstyle,implementation,andleadershipcapacity.CommissionerBrinkmanadvisedthatthefullCommissionwasseekingaone-yearassessmentofMs.Kyle-Reno'seffectiveness.Specifically,theCommissionaskedifIwouldbewillingto:...conductanevaluationandassessmentofthestyle,personality,andeffectivenessofthemanagementpersonnelintheoffice...Iagreedtoconducttheassessmentatnocharge(otherthanreimbursementformytravelandhotelexpenses).IbeganmyworkinlateDecember2011.
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Inpreparationfortheevaluation,IlearnedthatduringthelastseveralyearstheHamiltonCountyPublicDefender'sOfficehasbeenevaluatedandassessedmultipletimes.I
reviewed
thoseassessmentsincludingtheJuly2008reportpreparedbytheNationalLegalAidandDefenderAssociation,theDecember2008reportpreparedbytheOhioJusticePolicyCenter,theFebruary2009ReportoftheHamiltonCountyPublicDefenderTaskForce,andtheJuly2010ReportfortheOhioStateBarFoundation.ThisOfficehasbeenthoroughlyassessedandreassessed.ThosereportscontainthoughtfulrecommendationsthatifimplementedwouldimprovethequalityoflegalservicestheHamiltonCountyPublicDefender'sOfficeprovidestoclients.Inaddition,IreviewedanumberofinternaldocumentstoincludeOrganizationalStructurecharts;PolicyandProceduresManual;ClassandSalaryStructure;CostperCaseanalysis;PerformanceEvaluations;StrategicPlan;MOUbetweentheHamiltonCountyPublicDefenderOfficeandtheBoardofCountyCommissioners;RotationPaneldocuments;andtheofficetrainingcalendar.EmployeeSurveysPriortomytwositevisits,Ipreparedasixteen-questionemployeesurveythatIaskedMs.Kyle-Renotodistributetostaff[SeeAppendixA].Duringmyfirstsitevisit
J
observedthedropboxforthesesurveyshadbeenwrappedwithaslitinthetoptoinsertthesurvey.Iwastoldthattheboxwaswrappedbecauseemployeesfearedthatmanagementwouldopentheboxeachnight--readthesurveys--andthenretaliateagainstthestaffmemberifsurveyresponsesreflectedpoorlyontheoffice.Inaddition,duringmyfirstsitevisit,asignificantnumberofemployeestoldmetheywereafraidtotalktomeforfearthattheywerebeingwatchedandthatthemanagementwouldretaliate.Ireceived36completedsurveysduringmyfirst
visit-less
thanonethirdofthestaff.Toincreasestaffparticipation,IhostedthesurveyonmyKnoxville,Tennesseeofficewebsite.informedandencouragedemployeestologontomywebsiteandtakethesurveyanonymously.Fewerthan10surveyscameinviaourwebsite.
Site
Visits
A.FirstSiteVisitJanuary7-10,2012AsapartoftheevaluationIconductedtwositevisits.Onthefirstsitevisit,Ipre-selectedstaffmemberstointerview.Onthesecondvisit,Iinvitedstaffthatpreferredtospeakwithmeindividuallytomeetwithme.Managementwasnotawarewhichstaffmembersrequestedanoff-sitemeeting.DuringmyfirstvisitIconductedeighteen(18)individualinterviews,includingPublicDefender,SheilaKyle-RenoandherDeputy,DanJames.Inaddition,Iinterviewedofficedirectors,JackHerbert,TimothyCutcher,RobertHastings,ChristopherLaber,KimHelfrichandElizabethMiller.Further,IinterviewedtheAssistantDirectorofSpecializedCourt,ChristinePatel;theOfficeManager,MichelleSmith;theDirectorofIT,DebbieHaufman;theDirectorofHR,DianeSnowden;theAssistantDirectorofCourtServices,StevenJohnson;theAssistantDirectoroftheTrialUnit,FrankOsborne;theAssistantDirectoroftheJuvenileUnit,MichelleTemmel;theOfficerManageroftheGALDivision,MaryAnnNagel;andtheAssistantDirectoroftheGAL
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Division,NateBell.Inaddition,atBobHastingsrequest,IInterviewedalawyercurrentlyassignedtotheMunicipalDivision,SusannahMeyer.Inadditiontotheeighteen(18)individualinterviews,Iconductedsix(6)groupinterviewsconsistingof:TrialUnitstaffattorneys;MunicipalDivisionstaffattorneysandMunicipalCourtTeamLeaders;InterviewersandInterviewerSupervisors;SecondandThirdfloorsupportstaff,JailPhonesupportstaffand
20/20
supportstaff;CourtroomRoomAsupportstaff;andallsocialworkersandsocialworksupervisors.A[Iinterviewsfocusedbothonmanagementcapacityandmanagementstyle.Theinformationprovidedinindividualinterviewsandsix(6)groupmeetingsduringmyfirstsitevisitwasovervvhelminglynegative.Itisimportanttonote,thattheseeighteenstaffmembersarethemanagementteamattheoffice.Inbothindividualandgroupinterviews,themessurfacedquicklywithregardtomanagementcapacity:impatience;generaldistrust;lackofcommunicationandnetworkingskills;aninabilitytoarticulateavision;failuretoprioritizeneeds;lackofteambuildingskills;andlackingthecapacitytodeveloprelationshipsandallies;Likewise,themessurfacedwithregardtoMs.Kyle-Reno'smanagementstyle:notbeingvisible;oullyinqanddemeaningstaff;vulgarandrudebehavior;tooaggressive;close-mindedandautocratic;failingtosolicitinput;notconsideringallrelevantinformationbeforemakingdecisions;andmicro-managingminutia.
8.SecondSiteVisitJanuary
22~23,
2012
OnSunday,January22,2012,andMonday,January23,2012,ImadeasecondsitevisittotheOffice.InterviewsconductedthatSundaywereattherequestofthestaffmemberandoffsitetominimizethehighlevelofanxietyexhibitedduringthefirstsitevisitandtoprovideadegreeofanonymity.Iinterviewedtwelve(12)individualsonthatsecondSundayvisit,ten(10)ofwhomexpressedextremedissatisfactionwithleadershipandmanagement.Theircomplaintsreflectedthesamethemesfrommyfirstvisit.FrequentlyasIspoketoemployeesattheHamiltonCountyOffice,theyindicatedthatMs.Kyle-Renowantstheofficetobe"client-centered."ButwhenIaskedemployeestodefinewhat"client-centered"means,theystruggledtocomeupwitharesponse.AlmosteverystaffmembertoldmethatMs.Kyle-Reno'sstatedgoalfortheHamiltonCountyPublicDefender'sOfficeistobe"thebestlawfirminthecountry."Staffreportednotbeingmotivatedbythatgoal.Theypointoutthatlackingthemostbasictools(e.g.,privateofficeswheretheycouldconductconfidentialcommunicationswithclients,computers,software,acasemanagementsystem,investigativeassistance,reasonablecaseloads)noleadercouldseriouslybelieveherstatedgoalisattainable.Manytoldmetheyviewthechallengeasunattainableandeveninsulting.Duringtheeveninghoursofmysecondvisit,ImetwithMs.Kyle-Renoforasecondinterview.specificallyaskedheraboutsomeoftheinformationIhadreceived,givingheranopportunitytorespondtothecriticism.Ms.Kyle-RenoindicatedthatthePublicDefenderCommissionhadexpressedastrongdesireforhertobringstructuretotheoffice.Includedinthatnewstructurewouldbeemployeeevaluations,training,betterrelationswiththeclientcommunity,increasedfairnesswithregardtoemployeeinteractions,andmoreofficeindependence.Ms.Kyle-RenoreportedthatinterimdirectorTomRoddinghousehadprioritizedtheimmediateofficeneedsattiletimeoftransitiontoinclude:1.Creatinganofficepolicymanual;2.Developingtraining
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