NEW CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR THE JUDICIAL BRANCH IS UNDER DEVELOPMENT
Anyone spending much time in the Delaware courts these days has probably heard the word “COTS” used frequently. So what is all of this “COTS” talk and why is everyone in the court system excited about it? COTS is a Judicial Branch-wide effort to create a new computerized civil, criminal and financial case management system for all of the State courts. The system, which is currently under development, will interface with the computer systems used by many of the courts’ justice partner agencies, such as the police and Department of Correction, and will provide better public and web access opportunities as well as e-filing of civil cases in all courts. (The system originates from a Commercial off-the-Shelf product – hence the initial origin of the acronym COTS, which now stands for Courts Organized to Serve.) When completed, it is anticipated that this new system will provide significant improvements in case processing and will introduce greater uniformity in processes among the courts. These changes will make it easier for the courts to do business and for the public and the courts’ justice partners to do business with the courts.
Because COTS is such a large undertaking, the new system will be implemented in several phases. The first phase will be the introduction of the civil case management system in the Justice of the Peace Court in Sussex County (J.P. Courts 17 and 19) and in New Castle County (J.P. Court 12) this fall, with full implementation in the Justice of the Peace Court statewide in the spring of 2007. Statewide implementation of civil case management in all courts (other than the Family Court) is planned for the summer of 2008. Full implementation of the entire system, including civil and criminal case management and management reporting, is expected for the spring of 2010.
In the meantime, committees comprised of court staff, representatives of the courts’ justice system partner agencies, as well as representatives of the system’s vendor, Affiliated Computer Services, Inc. (ACS), are busy working on planning for all phases of the development of the COTS system. An important aspect of this planning is developing a “train the trainer” approach to ensure that all court employees who will use the COTS system are confident in their knowledge of and ability to use the new system prior to its actual implementation in their court.
Although much work on the COTS system remains, substantial progress has been made to date and with the continued commitment and support of the many participants, the Judicial Branch anticipates that the new system will help improve the quality of justice in Delaware and will better serve the public.