Best Practices Committee
December 5, 2012
Board for Judicial Administration
Conference Call: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 (3:00 - 4:00 p.m.)
The meeting was called to order by Judge Quinn-Brintnall.
Approval of Minutes
Judge Quinn-Brintnall asked if there were any corrections to the September 17, 2012 minutes, there were none. The minutes were approved as written.
Civil Trial Date Certainty - Update
Mr. Elliott reported that he has moved forward with examining civil trial date certainty for civil courts. He has looked at a number of sources including historical, local court rules, ABA, reports from other states, etc., and also had conversations with administrators and judges. Based on this research he suggests a standard of 95% of trials occurring within two or fewer trial date settings.
He continued that the information he found and summarized to the committee focuses on criminal rather than civil matters. Civil trial date certainty standards are hard to find, for example, the ABA had no information on civil, but a lot on criminal; case events for civil are well-defined, continuance policies are important and locally defined.
Defining First Trial Date Setting/Trial Occurs
Call from Judge Buzzard on 1.9.13: for first trial date, his understanding was that the consensus at the meeting was that the first date should be counted (it was ridiculous not to count it).
We need to resolve this question “How do we define first civil trial date setting?” Is it when filed? Or after time elapsed (settlement)? Mr. Elliott is in favor of supporting courts using the later date setting; and he senses that many courts are currently doing that.
Ms. Austin said they have a schedule order that sets the trial date out one year. Clerks do not enter the trial date. Pre-conference is sent out at original trial date; set trial date at date of filing, it is not in a system where it will show up as continuing.
Mr. Elliott thinks that is how we should define the trial date setting. Once we know people are seriously going to trial. By using this definition - we start tallying as a date confirmed post pre-trial or settlement conference. The first one counted would be one set by the parties/court, not automatically set by virtue of a rule.
Will that date be captured in SCOMIS? It depends on how each clerk’s office dockets that. How do they differentiate first date set by rule? Maybe do a BOXI query; it depends on coding/conventions. Ms. Gordon said she doesn’t think it would be an issue for the Clerks to be agreeable to this.
It was noted that date certainty is a problem for big and small counties. There are a number of variables: witnesses may be coming in from a distance, cost of witnesses, preparation for trial, and they may settle the morning of a trial.
There are concerns in severing criminal from civil; criminal takes precedence. At the time initial trial date set, the only person that has to be there is the defendant and a warrant is issued if they don’t show up. Setting the first trial date from arraignment when the defense counsel is not assigned is a problem.
SCOMIS will show a trial went out one day that week or it will show a continuance. In Benton/Franklin they have a trailing cause in local court rules, civil and domestic trials for a day. Start domestic later in the week to get criminal cases out of the way earlier. Thinks week of is good.
Cases will either trail or not. If we set a standard, people will make local accommodation to try and meet that standard. We are trying to set a standard, but there is flexibility in it.
Mr. Elliott said that if we decide to try a standard that is the first step. Then he will work on identifying three courts and try the standard in the field to see if we’re in the ballpark or not. If the standard is ultimately reasonable and the court can’t meet it - maybe the court needs more resources (additional judge) or maybe the court needs to reapply the resources they have.
Judge Quinn-Brintnall asked if SCOMIS can easily provide information. Is there a report we can put together to answer our questions? Mr. Elliott responded that ultimately, no. It could be done, but a lot of work by hand would also need to be done, there is a disparity in the way courts record things.
Define first trial date set after a pre-trial conference or reconfirmed. Second step, couple of days or the week of, does 95% sound okay? Don’t count the first one - it is automatic set by rule. Going with 95% with only one continuance?
Question - if a rule sets the date and that is being universally ignored, should the rule be revisited? If there is a date that is ignored it doesn’t achieve anything.
Mr. Elliott summed the up the discussion saying that by bringing some value to the very first date the concern is that if we don’t acknowledge that date, it will have less impact while case is being prepared for trial; then 95% within three dates.
Mr. Elliott asked if he should start looking for three test counties and approach this as a stand-alone. Or move toward civil at the same time. The response was that he should look at both because of the impact on civil trials by criminal trials.
Judge Quinn-Brintnall reported that the Court of Appeals, through a caseflow work group, looked at COA case time standard certainty. The work group made a proposal to the COA judges, it was rejected. There is no agreed standard to propose to this committee.
Two additional one-hour conference calls are scheduled.
May 8, 2013 @ 3:00
|Courts | Organizations | News | Opinions | Rules | Forms | Directory | Library|
|Back to Top | Privacy and Disclaimer Notices|