SPEED Docket to Expedite Civil Cases in the
Court of Common Pleas
“How long will it take to get to trial?” … a question asked in courts across the country where, in some cases, litigants wait in excess of a year for a resolution to simple legal disputes. The Court of Common Pleas for the State of Delaware, recognizing a very real need to shorten the time it takes for citizens of Delaware to bring their cases to trial, has instituted a new Special Election and Expedited Docket known as the SPEED Docket. According to Court of Common Pleas Judge Anne Hartnett Reigle, “It has been recognized since the English enacted the Magna Carta in 1225 that an injured citizen should have a right to a speedy trial for redress of harm. We took a look at how to improve justice for the litigants in our court and decided we would improve upon this ancient right.”
Beginning February 1, 2011, the Court’s SPEED Docket was made available for all civil cases filed in the Court of Common Pleas and all appeals de novo from the Justice of the Peace Court to the Court of Common Pleas where the amount in controversy is $10,000 to $50,000, excluding consumer debt cases and appeals on the record, which are exempt. Parties involved in a qualifying civil action may complete and file a SPEED Civil Action Election Sheet and have their case designated as a SPEED case.
“The Court of Common Pleas is ideally situated for speedy disposition of the types of cases and controversies that can come before the Court – non-jury trials before qualified judges supported by experienced staffing. The SPEED Docket is formulated in a way that allows civil litigants to take advantage of the Court’s special qualities in an efficient, cost-effective and orderly process.”
Court of Common Pleas Judge Eric M. Davis
What is special about the Court’s SPEED Docket? There are many special scheduling rules applied to SPEED cases that ensure a more timely resolution than that which are available through traditional scheduling practices. The first important distinction in SPEED cases is an assigned Judge who will remain with the case for all purposes through final disposition. Judicial assignment of the cases will be done on a rotating basis within the county in which the case is filed. Strictly enforced scheduling deadlines will be imposed on SPEED cases beginning with a scheduling conference which will held within thirty days of filing of the answer or a motion by any party. Firm pretrial and prompt trial dates will be established at the onset of the case which will not be continued by the court absent extraordinary circumstances.
A SPEED Docket Scheduling Conference will be conducted and a scheduling order will be entered establishing requirements that other parties be joined or pleadings be amended within one month of the SPEED Docket Scheduling Conference; discovery motions must be filed allowing them to be heard within two months of the Scheduling Conference; dispositive motions should be filed and heard within four months of the Scheduling Conference; and the trial will be scheduled to take place within five months of the Scheduling Conference.
The Court of Common Pleas is the perfect court to institute the expedited docket. The Court of Common Pleas’ SPEED Docket is a cutting edge advance that will improve efficiency and provide timely resolution without sacrificing quality or fairness of adjudication for our litigants.
You can find more information on the SPEED Docket at http://courts.delaware.gov/CommonPleas.
For further information contact Carole Kirshner by
e-mail at Carole.Kirshner@state.de.us