Justice of the Peace Court News
E-Filing at the Justice of the Peace Court
The Justice of the Peace Court has implemented a new policy regarding e-filing. Policy Directive 08-232 sets forth the filing criteria for those required to e-file in accordance with the Order amending Rule 79.1 allowing the Justice of the Peace Court to implement e-filing procedures. If you fall under the requirements for e-filing set for in the policy directive, you must register for an account and you must attend a training session prior to your use of the system. Click here to view the Court’s training sessions being held by the Judicial Information Center (JIC) in the near future.
Payment methods for e-filing includes the use of a credit card or establishment of a court account. To request a court account, you must complete and return a Court Account Application.
Those required to e-file are as follows:
- Parties represented by attorneys
- Artificial entities represented by an officer, employee or other authorized agent under Delaware Supreme Court Rule 57 and Justice of the Peace Court Civil Form 50 (“Form 50 agent”), where the entity has filed five (5) or more civil actions in the twelve (12) months immediately preceding the commencement of the civil action. This case limitation is effective regardless of whether or not the particular Form 50 agent has filed, within the prior year period, more than five (5) civil actions on behalf of the artificial entity.
- All other parties who, in the twelve (12) months immediately preceding the commencement of the civil action, have filed more than ten (10) other civil actions in the Justice of the Peace Court.
- To the extent that they may not fall into any of the above categories, any State Agency filing a civil action, represented by a Form 50 agent.
Form 50 Policy Directive
The Justice of the Peace Court has revised the policy regarding the filing and use of Form 50 representation under Supreme Court Rule 57. Policy Directive 95-152, sets forth the requirements for filing Form50s and all companies and/or agents should be familiar with these changes. Form more information and to view the revised Policy Directive please visit the link above.
Justice of the Peace Civil Courts 19 and 17 Merge
On October 8, 2008, the staff and operations of Justice of the Peace Court 19 officially merged with Court 17. Beginning January 26th, the newly merged Justice of the Peace Court 17 was located at 23730 Shortly Road, Georgetown Delaware, just off of Route 113, behind the Delaware State Police Troop 4 Building. Cases that were pending at the Court 19 location were automatically transferred to Court 17 for further court processing and any necessary proceedings beginning January 26th. The merger was intended to help the court become more efficient for the public to file and adjudicate their cases.
Police Prosecution Project at Justice of the Peace Court 6
This project was initiated June 1, 2007 at Court 6 because the police were interested in decreasing officer’s court hours and the Court was interested in reducing time to disposition. Court 6 was chosen as the location due to the fact that it has largest number of VAC transfers in the State on average (since 2003). 12,445 cases are transferred from the VAC to local JP Courts per year and 1,719 of those, or 13.8%, on average, are heard at Court 6. To begin the program, Harrington and Felton Police Departments started using the new system in June 2007 and Milford Police Department began in January 2009.
Under the new system the Court has implemented a call of the calendar for each police agency. One officer appears on behalf of the agency to conduct plea negotiations. If plea negotiations fail, the case is scheduled for trial at a later date to put the arresting officer on notice and permit time for the defendant to prepare.
The main goals of this project are to facilitate plea agreements and to reduce disposition time for cases as well as time spent at court by police officers and the public. It increases officer time on the street by eliminating the need for individual officer to appear. In addition, this project reduces court appearances for citizens (defendants and witnesses), ensures defendants understand their options and rights, ensures like cases are treated alike and it consolidates court workload for better efficiency.
Statistics from the first 7 months of this project shows, 50.6% of cases were resolved through a plea at the first appearance and 49.4% of cases were not resolved by a plea. The reasons for non-resolution are broken down as follows: 23.6% transfer to CCP; 15.2% failure to appear (capias); 7.2% set for trial; and 3.4% continued to a new date. The number of cases transferred to CCP has been reduced significantly. While data is still being compiled from recent casework, those figures have improved dramatically in the intervening months, prompting expansion of the project to the Camden and Wyoming Police Departments and Court 7 in Dover.
Fairness for All Initiative
In accordance with Supreme Court Administrative Directive 168 the Fairness for All Task Force was formed in an effort to identify and recommend solutions to issues of pro se (self-represented) civil litigants. Since the signing of the Administrative Directive, the task force has begun to identify programs that are already in place pertaining to this matter and fact finding sessions have been held in which testimony has been taken from organizations and identified individuals with an interest in the justice system as well as public hearings. Once all the testimony has been taken, the task force will develop a report to submit to the Chief Justice setting forth specific strategies to meet the needs of self-represented litigants and attempt to implement these strategies as soon as possible.
Justice of the Peace Civil Courts 12 and 13 Merge
On Wednesday, October 1, 2008, the staff and operations of Justice of the Peace Court 12 officially moved to Court 13. All phone calls made to Court 12’s telephone number are now forwarded to Court 13. Cases currently pending at the Court 12 location have been transferred automatically to Court 13 for further court processing and any necessary proceedings.
Justice of the Peace Court 13 is conveniently located at 1010 Concord Avenue, Wilmington, DE 19802, just off the I-95 exit to southbound Route 202. It has been completely refurbished to accommodate the merger. The phone number to Court 13 is (302) 577-2550. Frequent litigants may wish to consider applying to use the Justice of the Peace Court’s new e-filing system, eliminating the need to visit the court site except for actual court proceedings. More information on e-filing may be found at this link.
This move was approved by the General Assembly in the FY’08 budget and is undertaken in an effort to improve case processing efficiency of civil cases without having to seek additional personnel resources. The space vacated by the Court 12 operations will be used for expansion of existing specialty court operations, including Truancy Court.