The Justice of the Peace Court has recently completed consolidations of its civil courts in New Castle and Sussex Counties that are designed to bring new benefits to court users and greater efficiencies to the Court. In New Castle County, Courts 12 and 13 have been merged into an expanded space at the Court 13 site at 1010 Concord Avenue. In Sussex County, Courts 17 and 19 are now operating from the newly renovated Court 3/17 building in Georgetown. Court 16 in Kent County continues to be the centralized location for civil filings in that county. Each of these sites has free parking available for litigants, and the buildings and the environment immediately around these sites are well-lighted, and easily accessible.
Consolidation allows the Court to have more staff in one location, and provides the opportunity for staff to develop depth of knowledge in particular areas. Additionally, the merger will allow staff and judges to work more efficiently. Concentrating staff in one central location affords the opportunity for better coverage of duties in event of short-term illness, annual leave, and hiring freezes, thus lessening the potential for delays in processing litigants’ cases because of staffing shortages. In a court that has slightly over 50% of their 181 shifts covered with an actual security officer present at the court site, the merging of court sites with similar or the same functions, also allows the Court to focus existing security resources on fewer locations.
In addition to merging of civil courts, changes are being discussed for the consolidation of most criminal/traffic court functions/videophone functions in New Castle County. The proposed changes have the potential for enhancing round-the-clock services to the public, police agencies, attorneys, and the Department of Correction. The Court is currently in discussions with OMB and legislators to explore the benefits of proceeding with this plan which is expected to save time and money, and to provide better service.