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Message From President Judge Ridgely Fiscal Year 2001

Former President Judge Ridgely

Welcome to the Superior Court of Delaware!

During Fiscal Year 2001 the Superior Court welcomed three new judges, two new Commissioners and a new Court Administrator. Judge Peggy L. Ableman was sworn in on October 30, 2000, after 17 years as a Family Court Judge. Judge Joseph Slights was sworn in on November 2, 2000 after 12 years of private practice. Judge Jan Jurden was sworn in on May 29, 2001 after 12 years of private practice.

They respectively succeeded Resident Judge Vincent A. Bifferato, Judge William T. Quillen and Judge Norman A. Barron who have retired. Court Administrator Tom Ralston also retired. Commissioner Mark Vavala and Commissioner David White were sworn in upon the conversion of their positions from Master to Commissioner.

During this fiscal year the total number of new case filings statewide was 3.9% less than the previous fiscal year. I am pleased to report that the Court reduced the total number of pending cases by 8% statewide by disposing of more cases than ever before in the Court's history. The Court continues to be the forum for the resolution of not only Delaware's major criminal cases but also some of the nation's most complex commercial litigation involving Delaware corporations.

We continue to apply a best commercial practices and customer service approach to improve our service to the public. Through our website prospective jurors now may file their responses to jury qualification questionnaires online which saves time and money for them and the Court. The site has also been expanded to include a searchable database of recent written decisions of the Judges.

The Court continues to set the example for an effective statewide Drug Court. In March 2001, the statewide Drug Court Information System (DCIS) was launched with federal funding assistance. DCIS permits drug court treatment providers and the Court to share information electronically.

In Sussex County an e-courtroom was completed where courtroom technologies are being used to reduce the time needed to try cases and to improve juror comprehension of the evidence. Construction of a new e-courtroom in Kent County was near completion by the end of the fiscal year. With the e-courtroom in New Castle County, the Court will soon have a state-of-the-art e-courtroom in each County.

The Superior Court joins with five other Courts in fully supporting the full funding of COTS. We are fully committed to this process and selection of a cost effective judicial case management system that meets the needs of the State of Delaware. By improving information sharing this system will enhance not only court operations, but also public safety.

Our vision is to be the Superior Court with the most superior service in the nation. Our core values as an organization are UNITED, which stands for unity, neutrality, integrity, timeliness, equality and dedication. We have a continuing commitment to build on the quality of justice and public service for which the Superior Court of Delaware is well known here and nationally.

President Judge Ridgely