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Case Management   

Case management includes management of the following core elements: 1) caseflow, 2) case assignment, 3) alternative dispute resolution, 4) appointment of counsel and other representatives, 5) jury utilization, and 6) case information.  A coordinated approach to each of these aspects of case management is essential for a trial court to effectively fulfill its central purpose.  Policies, standards, guidelines, and other tools relative to each of these aspects are available here.  See also Section 3 of the Michigan Court Administration Reference Guide for more information on case management.

 

Performance Measures

Clearance Rate

What is a Clearance Rate? 

A clearance rate measures whether the court is keeping up with its incoming caseload.  This measure is an annual or multi-year percentage for each case type or case group in a court.
 

Why is it Important to Measure a Court’s Clearance Rate? 

If cases are not disposed in a timely manner, a backlog of cases awaiting disposition will grow.   This measure identifies, by case type or case group, emerging backlogs before they become a problem.   
 
Courts should aspire to dispose of at least as many cases as have been filed and reopened in a period by having a clearance rate of 100 percent or higher.  A rate of more than 100 percent demonstrates that the court is reducing the pending caseload; a rate of less than 100 percent indicates the court is adding to its pending caseload.  Clearance rates naturally fluctuate above and below 100 percent, but clearance rates that are consistently under 100 percent can lead to backlogs.
 

How is a Clearance Rate Calculated? 

Computing a clearance rate requires a count of incoming cases and outgoing cases during a given time period.  Incoming cases are the sum of all new filings and reopened cases.  Outgoing cases are the sum of all cases disposed or cases made inactive.  The clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of outgoing cases by the number of incoming cases.
 

Timeliness Data (Case Age Disposition Rate and Caseload Pending Over Guideline)

What is a Timeliness Data Measure?

Timeliness data includes both case age at disposition and caseload pending over guidelines. 
 
Case age at disposition is the amount of time taken by courts to dispose of cases, by specific case type and is indicated by a percent of cases disposed within established time frames.  
 
Caseload pending over the guideline is the number of cases pending adjudication or disposition at year-end that have a case age over the final time guidelines. 
 
For the Court of Appeals, the measurement is 18 months.  For trial courts, the measurements vary based on the case type.  Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 2013-12 provides these time guidelines for trial courts.
 

Why is it Important to Measure a Court’s Timeliness?

Timely disposition of cases is necessary to ensure that the court is carrying out justice, resolving disputes, and ensuring fair access. Therefore, measuring timeliness is a fundamental management tool for assessing the length of time it takes a court to process cases.  Timeliness data is extremely valuable because it provides baseline data for a delay reduction program, it enables the court to measure its performance in light of time guidelines, and it facilitates planning for changes in case management practices. 
 
Measuring case age at disposition is important because it measures the success of courts in the timely processing of cases, identifies the case types where delays occur, and assists in assessing the resources needed to improve court management and accessibility to the courts. 
 
Measuring caseload pending over guidelines is important because these cases are the oldest cases on the court’s docket that are still awaiting adjudication or disposition. 
 

How is Timeliness Measured?

Case age at disposition is measured by dividing the number of cases disposed within the time guidelines by the number of cases disposed and the number of cases pending over the guidelines.  When the underlying data conform to the caseload reporting requirements, the measure takes into account periods of inactivity beyond court control and provides a framework for meaningful measurement across all case types.
 
Cases Disposed Within the Time Frame During the Year
------------------------divided by-----------------------------------------
Cases Disposed During the Year and
Cases Pending Over the Time Frame at Year End
 
The caseload pending over guidelines is a count of the number of cases pending on December 31 that exceed the final time guideline. 

 

Caseflow Management

Caseflow management is central to the court's business.  It is the management of the processes and resources necessary to move a case from the point of initiation through disposition and into post-disposition activity.  It is concerned with active attention by the court to the progress of each case once it has been filed with the court.

 

In 1991 the Michigan Supreme Court, through Administrative Order 1991-4, explicitly recognized that ". . . the management of the flow of cases is properly the responsibility of the judiciary."  The court reaffirmed this commitment in 2003 and again in 2011 and 2013.  Further amendments were made through Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 2013-12.

 

A guide to caseflow management was originally developed in response to the Court's mandate and was revised to incorporate changes produced by Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Orders 2003-7, 2011-3, and 2013.12.  The Caseflow Management Guide provides judges and caseflow management practitioners with guidance to develop and improve their caseflow systems.  It incorporates information about the following court management principles. 

    • Caseflow management is the supervision or management of the time and events necessary to move a case from initiation to disposition or adjudication.

    • Court supervision of case progress, including adjournments, is necessary for an effective and efficient case management system.

    • Judicial support and leadership and the involvement of the bar and justice agencies is critical to the development and maintenance of a caseflow management system.

    • Management information, whether from an automated or manual system, is needed to  determine if the court is meeting its caseflow management goals and objectives, assess the effectiveness of case management procedures and practices, and determine the need for change.

     

In addition, business courts can be established to provide a case management structure that facilitates more timely, effective, and predictable resolution of complex business cases.  Effective October 17, 2012, Public Act 333 requires circuit courts with three or more judges to create a specialized business court docket.  For details, see Business Courts.
 

Jury Management

Centralized and effective management of the jury system should be implemented as part of an overall case management system.  There should be full-time administration of the jury system at the top managerial level of the court, with delegation of day-to-day operating responsibilities to a clerical or administrative staff member.  For further details, see Jury Management.
 

Required Caseflow Management Plan

All trial courts are required to maintain current caseflow management plans consistent with the case processing time guidelines established in Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 2013-12.  A model local administrative order is available.

 

Required Local Administrative Orders

Assignment of Cases

All cases must be assigned by lot unless a different system has been adopted by local court administrative order under the provisions of subrule MCR 8.112. Assignment will occur at the time the case is filed or before a contested hearing or uncontested dispositional hearing on the case, as the chief judge directs. Civil actions must be assigned within appropriate categories determined by the chief judge. The chief judge may receive fewer assignments in order to perform the duties of chief judge. It is required by court rule that a local administrative order be issued defining and explaining the procedure of assigning cases "by lot" used by the particular court. MCR 8.111(B).

 

Elimination of Circuit Court Arraignments

Under MCR 6.113, a circuit court may, through issuance of a local administrative order, eliminate the circuit court arraignment of criminal cases cognizable in the circuit court.  Model provided.

 

Multiple District Plan for Magistrates

MCL 600.8320 allows two or more district courts within a county or two adjoining districts of the first class to establish a multiple district plan in which a district court magistrate is authorized to conduct arraignments, set bail or recognizance, provide for the appointment of counsel, or make determinations of probable cause and issue warrants for all of the participating districts within the multiple district area. For districts consisting of more than one county, the chief or only judge may authorize a magistrate appointed in one county to serve in another county within the district. Courts choosing to establish a multiple district plan must submit to the State Court Administrator a local administrative order signed by the chief or only judges of all participating districts. MCL 600.8320.  Model provided.

 

Pilot for Referring Selected Parenting Time Disputes to the Community Dispute Resolution Center for Mediation

Courts may refer certain domestic relations disputes to local Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP) centers for mediation. CDRP center mediators have completed a 40-hour general civil mediation training and a three-day State Court Administrative Office domestic relations mediation training. Courts may refer custody, parenting time, grandparenting time motions, parenting time complaints, and other contested custody and parenting time issues identified by the court to the CDRP center for mediation.  Courts interested in establishing a referral process for these domestic relations issues must submit a local administrative order (LAO). A model LAO includes referral and mediation procedures. Courts should contact the local CDRP center before implementing a local administrative order for this program.  See contact information for local centers.  Direct questions about this program to Doug Van Epps at 517-373-4839 or vaneppsd@courts.mi.gov, or Timothy Cole at 517-373-5975 or colet@courts.mi.gov.  Model provided.

 

Referrals to Domestic Relations Referee

Under MCR 3.215(B), the chief judge may issue an administrative order to refer all motions of a particular kind to a referee. Judges are free to assign other motions to a referee to the extent allowed by law. MCR 3.215(B).

 

Scheduling Arraignments

Unless the circuit court does the scheduling of the arraignment on the information, the district court must do so in accordance with the administrative orders of the trial court. MCR 6.110(I).

 

Selecting Case Evaluator and Case Evaluation Plans

Each trial court that submits cases to case evaluation under MCR 2.403 shall adopt by local administrative order a plan to maintain a list of persons available to serve as case evaluators and to assign case evaluators from the list of panels. The plan must be in writing and available to the public in the case evaluation clerk's office. Other alternative plans must be submitted as local court rules under MCR 8.112(A). MCR 2.403(A).  Model provided.

 

Use of VideoConferencing Technology

Trial courts are authorized to use videoconferencing under MCR 2.407, MCR 3.210(A)(4), MCR 3.215(D)(3), MCR 3.904, MCR 5.738a, and MCR 6.006.  A list of authorized uses for videoconferencing is available in Section 2, Appendix A of the Michigan Trial Court Standards for Courtroom Technology.  The standards were established by the State Court Administrative Office in accordance with Michigan Supreme Court Administrative Order 2014-25.

 

Waiver of Jurisdiction Over Civil Infractions Committed by Juveniles

Under MCL 712A.2e and MCL 600.8379(1), the circuit court may enter into an agreement with the district court to waive jurisdiction over all or specifically named civil infractions alleged to have been committed by juveniles within the geographic jurisdiction of the district court. Courts making such an agreement must submit a joint local administrative order to the State Court Administrator. MCL 712A.2e, MCL 600.8379(1).  Model provided.

 

Resources

Resources used by trial courts in conjunction with case management practices in the courts include caseflow management plans, case screening forms, scheduling forms, alternative dispute resolution plans, and case management reports. 

 

Case Screening Forms

 

Scheduling Forms

 

ADR Plans

Guidelines for ADR plans are available at the Office of Dispute Resolution website.

  

Case Management Reports

These reports are to be used for assessment and ongoing monitoring. They include both individual case progress reports and performance indicator reports as described in Chapter 5 of the Caseflow Management Guide.

 

Individual Case Reports

 

Performance Indicator Reports