November 24, 2010—American Law Institute Elects Judge Slights a Member
Superior Court Judge Joseph R. Slights III has been elected as an American Law Institute member. The American Law Institute has been the leading independent organization in the U.S. for 85 years producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law. Its distinguished members have the opportunity to influence the development of the law in both existing and emerging areas, to work with other eminent lawyers, judges, and academics, to give back to a profession to which they are deeply dedicated, and to contribute to the public good.
November 24, 2010—Superior Court's Judge Slights Panelist at e-Discovery Institute
Judge Joseph R. Slights III was on two panels at the 7th Annual Advanced E-Discovery Institute in Arlington, Virginia on November 18 - 19, 2010. The Institute focused issues in today's legal climate with leading experts in the e-discovery field including more judicial speakers than any other e-discovery CLE program. The panels were: ESI in Criminal Proceedings in high-stakes criminal investigations that present unique challenges and risks not faced in civil litigation; and the Judicial Roundtable discussion among leading judges in the field of e-discovery.
November 23, 2010—American Judicature Society Appoints Judge Slights to Committees
Superior Court Judge Joseph R Slights III has been appointed to two American Judicature Society Committee: Carpenter Jury Center Advisory and the Editorial. The American Judicature Society is an independent, national, nonpartisan organization of judges, lawyers, and other members of the public who seek to improve the justice system. Its mission is to secure and promote an independent and qualified judiciary and fair system of justice.
November 15, 2010—Superior Court's Resident Judge Witham Receives Award
In celebration of the 1787 signing of the United States Constitution Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. was presented with Sons of the American Revolution's Silver Good Citizenship Award by the Caesar Rodney Chapter at its Annual Delaware Society Constitution Day event on September 18, 2010. Judge Witham was also the event's featured speaker. He spoke on the Declaration of Independence and its impact upon the shaping of the United States Constitution.
November 12, 2010—Superior Court eFile Proper Procedures Information Guidelines Update for 2010 Available.
September 9, 2010—Delaware has been awarded a $200,000 competitive grant from BJA for Drug Court Enhancement.
September 8, 2010—Judge Carpenter Elected Vice-Chair of the National Conference of State Trial Judges
Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. has been elected vice-chair of the National Conference of State Trial Judges. The Conference is part of the ABA Judicial Division, and is the oldest, largest and most prestigious organization in the world representing the interests of state trial judges. It is expected that Judge Carpenter will become Chairman of the National Conference in August of 2012. Judge Carpenter also serves as co-chair of the Judicial Division Membership Committee that serves nearly 4000 judicial members.
August 9, 2010—Superior Court Amends Civil Rule 77 & Civil Rule 4(f)
Effective August 9, 2010, Civil Rule 77, Miscellaneous Services Fees is amended pertaining to fees for notarized and certified documents. Effective August 5, 2010 Civil Rule 4(f), Ejectment is amended to add a new 4(f)(5) and renumber 4(f)(5) as 4(f)(6).
August 5, 2010—Seoul Metropolitan Officers Visit Superior Court
Three officers from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, Republic of Korea visited Superior Court Chambers and viewed a trial. Senior Inspector Ik Joon Oh, Chief of Behavioral Science Team, Inspector Juhyung Park, Team Leader, and Assistant Inspector Seung Hun Lee, of the Fire and Explosion Investigation at the Forensic Division, visited as part of a program to promote international networking and collaboration in fighting global terrorism and international organized crime. The officers return to the Republic of Korea on August 20, 2010.
April 27, 2010—New Complex Commercial Litigation Division Created
Delaware, in the forefront of business litigation, has added another venue to handle complex commercial and business litigation cases. Effective May 1, 2010, the Superior Court of Delaware for New Castle County launched a newly created Complex Commercial Litigation Division (CCLD) to improve upon the Court's administrative handling of complex commercial and business cases. Commercial, business and other designated cases may be assigned to the CCLD when the controversy amount is $1 million or greater (designated for either jury or non-jury), or involves an exclusive choice of court agreement, or is designated by the President Judge for assignment as a CCLD case. The cases will be specifically assigned to a judge on the Complex Commercial Litigation Division Judge's Panel.
April 22, 2010—Study Ranks Delaware Superior Court No. 1 Again
A newly released national survey ranks Delaware's litigation environment first in the country for fairness. The survey, Lawsuit Climate 2010: Ranking the States by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, shows that Delaware has again led the other 49 states to be ranked number one as it has done since the survey was first conducted in 2002.
December 29, 2009—Mental Health Court Team Nominated for Governor's Award
The Governor's Team Excellence Awards encourage teamwork by recognizing groups of state employees who use continuous quality improvement tools and excel in leadership, team dynamics and communication to produce superior customer service and tangible results. This year, 12 teams, representing the efforts of 170 state employees, were nominated for the award. Our Mental Health Court team includes Superior Court staff and personnel from the Department of Justice, the Office of the Public Defender, the Office of Probation and Parole, the Department of Correction, the Treatment Access Center (TASC), and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
December 10, 2009—Judgments Cases Designated for e-Filing
Superior Court Administrative Directive 2009-4 designates Judgments Cases for e-Filing. Effective January 1, 2010, all judgment cases filed with the Prothonotary in any county shall be filed electronically using the LexisNexis File & Serve™ eFiling system.
December 1, 2009—Trade Names Online Database
Superior Court launched an online Trade, Business & Fictitious Names database. The new browser-based database is available for the public to search the active, registered Trade, Business and Fictitious Names to determine that they are registering a unique name. The registration of Trade, Business and Fictitious Names with the Court is required to engage in any business within the limits of the State of Delaware. Since the applicant bears the responsibility for determining whether there is an existing business or organization using the same fictitious name, this new Court initiative will make the registration process available without coming to the courthouse. The new database is enhanced with an online 'How to Register,' complete instructions, and interactive online forms.
November 16, 2009—President Judge Releases 2009 Annual Report
President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. has released Superior Court's fiscal year's statewide civil case load witnessed a 39% rise in mortgage foreclosures and liens. The number of judgments filed went up 9% in New Castle County, and the number of judgments executed went up by 12%. Statewide, the aggregate number of new civil cases filed was up seven per cent. On the criminal side this year, statewide, there were 8,898 cases filed; with 51 murder cases, up 11% from last year. Seventy-seven per cent of these 51 murder cases are pending in New Castle County. The Court continues to develop new specialized programs such as the Mental Health Court and the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program, expand existing projects such as Project Rightful Owner, and add additional online services such as iCourtClerk™ and online Trade Names to provide superior service to meet ever changing needs.
November 13, 2009—Judge Slights Participant in Complex Case & e-Discovery Panels
Judge Joseph R. Slights III was a panel participant discussing Managing the Complicated Case at the Fifth Annual Meeting of the American College of Business Court Judges on November 10, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. At the November 13, 2009 Advanced e-Discovery Institute at Georgetown University Law School in Washington, D.C., Judge Slights participated on two panels, the Federal Rules of Evidence 502 in Practice: The First Year in Review and Controlling e-Discovery Costs in Smaller Stakes Litigation.
October 12, 2009—Superior Court Completes Implementation of New Civil System
Superior Court completed statewide implementation of the new Contexte civil case management system on October 5, 2009. New Castle and Kent Counties implemented the civil system introduced earlier this year in Sussex County Superior Court.
September 10, 2009—Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program Launched
Governor Jack A. Markell joined President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. and members of the Mediation Program Steering Committee at the New Castle County Courthouse to officially launch the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. The program provides a mechanism by which homeowners can elect to participate in a court mediation process with their lender to find a mutually agreeable alternative to foreclosure action.
September 9, 2009—Judges Carpenter and Scott Elected to NCSTJ Leadership Roles
At the American Bar Association meeting, July 30 - August 2, 2009, Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. was elected secretary of the National Conference of State Trial Judges (NCSTJ). Judge Carpenter will also serve as Chairman of the Judicial Division Membership Committee that serves nearly 4000 judicial members. Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr.was elected to a two-year term on the National Conference of State Trial Judges Executive Committee. He will also serve as Chair of the Conference's By-Laws Committee. The NCSTJ, part of the ABA Judicial Division, is the oldest, largest and most prestigious organization in the world representing the interests of state trial judges. This past year it marked its 50th anniversary.
September 10, 2009—State and Superior Court Launch New Program to Help Homeowners Facing Foreclosure
Governor Jack A. Markell joined President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. and members of the Mediation Program Steering Committee at the New Castle County Courthouse to announce Administrative Directive 2009-3 to establish the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. The program provides a mechanism by which homeowners can elect to participate in a court mediation process with their lender to find a mutually agreeable alternative to foreclosure action. Governor Markell commented, "This program is the direct result of yet another great example of state agencies, legislators, attorneys, lenders, bankers, housing counselors, nonprofits, advocates, and other stakeholders coming together to find creative ways to help Delaware's families keep their homes. So many families facing foreclosure did everything right. They played by the rules, they worked hard, but fell victim to the national recession. Helping them stay in their homes is good for our economy and good for Delaware's families. Delaware is a state of neighbors. When we see a problem, we come together to solve it." President Judge Vaughn remarked, "The residential mortgage foreclosure mediation program which has been adopted by the Court represents the work of both lenders and homeowners. With the assistance of housing counselors, the program gives homeowners an opportunity to negotiate an alternative to foreclosure, without affecting substantial rights of lenders."
August 31, 2009—Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program Directive
President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. announced the Superior Court's new Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program with the publication if Administrative Directive No. 2009-3. President Judge Vaughn explained that "representatives of both lenders and homeowners worked together to develop the mortgage mediation program which has been adopted in the Administrative Directive. It is designed to give homeowners an opportunity to negotiate an alternative to foreclosure, with the assistance of housing counselors, without affecting substantial rights of lenders." This Administrative Directive applies to all mortgage foreclosure actions within its scope filed on or after September 15, 2009.
August 26, 2009—Mental Health Court Gets $347,000 Byrne Grant
Superior Court's Mental Health Court, the first felony mental health court in Delaware, has been awarded $347,000 from the Byrne Grant Stimulus Funds announced President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. "This funding will allow Superior Court's Mental Health Court Program, and its case management, to be expanded to all three counties." Mental Health Court which began in New Castle County (April 2008) is a collaborative mental health court project designed to identify persons involved in the criminal justice system as a result of serious mental health issues. It provides them with intensive services and support to guide them to recovery and self sufficiency as an alternative to repeated incarceration for violations of probation or commission of new offenses. The Court strives to provide necessary wrap-around services to reduce the number of days in prison and psychiatric hospitals for individuals with mental health issues, thereby reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and achieving cost savings.
August 13, 2009—Mediation Training Directive Published
Effective August 13, 2009, Administrative Directive 2009-2 is published regarding Superior Court Mediation Training.
August 10, 2009—Jury Commissioners Eliminated; Saves $15,000 Yearly.
Six outdated jury commissioner positions were eliminated from the court system when House Bill 151 was signed by Governor Jack Markell. Jury commissioners used to be responsible for insuring that a random, fair cross-section of Delawareans were called for jury service. However, this work is now done by a computer program handled by the Superior Court Jury Services staff. The Court's computerized process is designed to insure that jury pools are randomly selected and reflect Delaware's population. The legislation "will save the State $15,000 in unnecessary expense," said President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. "Through the Court's computerized jury selection process, the court [Jury Services] staff generates a random selection of jurors and ensures Delawareans get a jury of their peers."
July 15-17, 2009—Judge Jurden Attends National Mental Health Court Training Event
Judge Jan R. Jurden attended the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) / The Council of State Governments Justice Center's National Technical Assistance and Training Event, Smart Responses in Tough Times: Achieving Better Outcomes for People with Mental Illnesses Involved in the Criminal Justice System in Washington D.C. on a BJA scholarship. Attendees came from all over the country, representing courts, corrections, community treatment organizations, police, legislatures, and charitable foundations. Training Event Presentations included sessions on Veterans courts, data collection to assess mental health courts cost effectiveness and effectiveness in reducing recidivism, improving public safety, and saving money through reduced jail/prison time, information sharing, collaboration between agencies, i.e., courts, police, corrections, integrating employment strategies into criminal justice programs, pretrial diversion opportunities, prioritizing populations with co-occurring disorders, and addressing homeless populations, among others.
July 1, 2009—Project Rightful Owner A Success
Superior Court's Project Rightful Owner launched in May 2007 has disbursed nearly $3.5 million of the excess proceeds from Sheriff's sales as of June 2009. Excess proceeds arise when the value of the property, at the time of sale, exceeds the amount of money needed to pay off all recorded liens and mortgages.
May 11, 2009—Superior Court Launches iCourtClerk™
Superior Court launches iCourtClerk™ a new Superior Court Internet initiative to assist our users with a Web-based Answer Desk. This service is provided for those who choose Internet communications as their primary communication tool and who cannot find the information they need through online searches or our Quick Connect or Quick Find Index.
February 26, 2009—Judge Jurden Honored with Sylvia H. Rambo Award
Judge Jan R. Jurden was the recipient of 2009 Sylvia H. Rambo Award presented by the Women's Law Caucus of Pennsylvania State University and Dickinson School of Law. The Women's Law Caucus (WLC) honors a female in the legal profession who has had a distinguished career and who, by example, has made the professional success of other women more likely. The judge is the fifteenth recipient of this prestigious award. Judge Jurden has served on the Superior Court of Delaware since her appointment in May 2001. She is a graduate of the Dickinson School of Law, and previously was a partner with the Delaware law firm, Young, Conaway, Stargatt & Taylor.
November 12, 2008—Delaware Bar Presents Awards
Judge Richard F. Stokes received the 2008 Distinguished Mentoring Award from the Delaware State Bar Association on October 22, 2008 at the Hotel du Pont. The award recognizes a Delaware lawyer or judge who serves as an inspiration in striving for and maintaining the highest standards in their professional careers and community involvement.
November 10, 2008—Mortgage Foreclosure Dormant Docket Created After 30% Rise
Effective October 27, Administrative Directive 2008-3 creates a mortgage foreclosure dormant docket. Mortgage foreclosures rose 30% in fiscal year 2008 and the process of negotiating and performing such agreements may exceed the period during which pending actions may be inactive. At any time after a mortgage foreclosure complaint is served and the time for filing of answers by all defendants has passed, the plaintiff may request that the action be moved from the active docket to the mortgage foreclosure dormant docket. Any party may request that the action be moved back to the active docket. This Directive shall apply to all mortgage foreclosure actions now pending or hereafter filed and will expire after five years, unless extended, or unless sooner rescinded.
October 15, 2008—President Judge Releases 2008 Annual Report
President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. has released Superior Court's fiscal year 2008 Annual Report. Highlights include being recognized for the 7th consecutive year as the premier court of general jurisdiction in the country in the State Liability Systems Ranking Study, a 1% increase in filings over the previous year and a 5% increase in dispositions.
October 2, 2008—Judges Have Key Roles In NCSTJ
The American Bar Association's annual meeting in New York City marked the official 50th anniversary kickoff celebration of the National Conference of State Trial Judges (NCSTJ). Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. and Judge Calvin L. Scott were delegates to the conference. The celebration began with a CLE program regarding the changes experienced by judges over the past 50 years including innovations in technology, the emergence of collaborative courts to address the unique social and criminal justice issues and the advancement of scientific issues in the courtroom. Events celebrating the 50th anniversary will continue throughout the year. Judge Carpenter was recognized for his two years of service on the conference's executive board. He will continue this upcoming year as chair of the Judicial Division Membership Committee. The most significant action taken at the NCSTJ business meeting was the approval of by-laws amendments. Judge Scott served as a member of the by-laws committee that recommended the changes.
September 19, 2008—Superior Court Names Judge Jurden to Task Force
Judge Jan R. Jurden has been named Superior Court's representative to Delaware's Task Force for the Chief Justices' Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative by President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center selected Delaware as one of 4 states to participate in the national project. The project's mission is to improve responses to people with mental illnesses who are involved in the justice system. Funding and technical assistance will be provided by 2 nonprofits, the CSG Justice Center and the National GAINS Center. For Superior Court the Initiative will build upon our existing pilot Mental Health Court, started in early 2008 that Judge Jurden initiated and oversees.
August 21, 2008—Superior Court Welcomes New Judge
President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. administered the oath of office to Superior Court's new Judge for New Castle County, John A. Parkins Jr. The investiture was held in Courtroom 8B of the New Castle County Courthouse. The oath of office was followed by remarks from Governor Ruth Ann Minner, Chief Justice Myron T. Steele, and William J. Wade, Esq.
August 4, 2008—Superior Court Welcomes New Commissioner
President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. administered the oath of office to Superior Court's new Commissioner for New Castle County, Lynne M. Parker, on July 24, 2008. Lynne's investiture was held in Courtroom 8B of the New Castle County Courthouse. Judge Vaughn opened the court followed by her children, Samuel (6 Â½ years old) and Tia (4 years old), leading the Pledge of Allegiance. The children then held the Bible while the oath was administered. Her parents, Jacob and Joy Parker, assisted in the robing ceremony. Judge Joseph R. Slights III and Lynne's husband, Charles M. Oberly III spoke, followed by the Commissioner's remarks. A reception followed and a good time was had by all!
June 2, 2008—Sussex County Superior Court Moves to New System
Sussex County Superior Court was the first of the three counties to implement the new statewide Contexte civil case management system. The new case management system is a typical user-friendly Windows-type application. It incorporates Civil case management, accounting, e-filing, document management, and a public access component.
May 6, 2008—History of Delaware's Business Courts Article Published
Judge Joseph R. Slights III co-authored the newly published article "The History of Delaware's Business Courts," Business Law Today, Vol. 17, No. 4, March / April 2008 with Vice Chancellor Donald F. Parsons Jr. The authors write that "both the Delaware Court of Chancery and Superior Court demonstrate a commitment to excellence in adjudication of business disputes that attracts litigants from around the country, including the nation's leading corporations." "Delaware is the forum of choice for resolving complex business and commercial issues, in part, because the judiciary focuses so actively on fairness, efficiency and expertise in corporate law and related business matters. As a result, businesses that choose to incorporate in Delaware enjoy the benefit of a reliable and consistent body of law on which they can rely when conducting their business affairs."
October 2, 2008—Judges Have Key Roles In NCSTJ
The American Bar Association's annual meeting in New York City marked the official 50th anniversary kickoff celebration of the National Conference of State Trial Judges (NCSTJ). Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. and Judge Calvin L. Scott were delegates to the conference. The celebration began with a CLE program regarding the changes experienced by judges over the past 50 years including innovations in technology, the emergence of collaborative courts to address the unique social and criminal justice issues and the advancement of scientific issues in the courtroom. Events celebrating the 50th anniversary will continue throughout the year. Judge Carpenter was recognized for his two years of service on the conference's executive board. He will continue this upcoming year as chair of the Judicial Division Membership Committee. The most significant action taken at the NCSTJ business meeting was the approval of by-laws amendments. Judge Scott served as a member of the by-laws committee that recommended the changes. The practice of dividing the executive board into geographic districts and requiring the delegates from that region to elect the district representative was replaced by a ten member at-large board. This change was implemented to reflect the difficulty that has been experienced over the past 10 years getting representatives in certain areas of the country and the unreasonable delay that many delegates in more active districts were experiencing before they would get representatives on the governing board. Since the district in which Delaware was grouped included Maryland, D.C., West Virginia and Pennsylvania, all which send active delegates to the conference, this was a particularly important change for our state. It is expected that the ABA Board of Governors will approve the change in the fall and the new by-laws will be in effect for the next election cycle.
May 30, 2008—Judge Susan C. Del Pesco Retires
After serving 20 years on the Superior Court bench Judge Susan C. Del Pesco retired from the bench. She was the state's first female Superior Court judge. "Judge Del Pesco has served with honor and distinction," President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. said. "As the first woman appointed to the court, she has set the example for other women judges and lawyers to follow. She will be missed by her fellow judges, but we wish her well as she moves on to other endeavors."
April 24, 2008—Prominent Role in National Mock Trial Championship
Delaware hosted the 25th Annual National High School Mock Trial Championship from May 7 through May 11, 2008. Championship teams from across the United States, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and South Korea competed for the prestigious National High School Mock Trial Championship. Superior Court Judge Joseph R. Slights III played a prominent role in winning the National Championship for Delaware for 2008 serving as the co-chair of Delaware's Host Committee. After Delaware won the role as host state, he continued to serve as a co-host director of the Host Committee and the Steering Committee. Superior Court Judge Robert B. Young and Judge are also members of both committees. The National Championship was held in the New Castle County Courthouse. View the Mock Trial Web site for 2008 Championship Results.
April 10, 2008—New Castle County Superior Court Discontinues Civil Calendar Call
Effective May 1, 2008, the New Castle County Superior Court will discontinue the Civil Call of the Calendar. Attorneys will no longer have to attend the Call, Wednesday before trial.
March 10, 2008—Esteban Parra, "Rule Aims to Clear Superior Court Backlog," The News Journal
Abstract: A change to Superior Court's Civil Rules is forcing people who file civil suits to resolve their cases without trials is being lauded as a time-saver by Superior Court. But attorneys who argue lawsuits affected by the change are concerned it will cost their clients more. "I think this will be more expensive under the new rule for an injured victim who may be out of work," said Susan D. Ament, who represents injury victims. Under the change, litigants could be forced to pay mediators to help resolve cases, which could cost $350 to $400. They also may have to pay for depositions and other requests. Before the change went into effect, cases involving less then $100,000 were subject to a practice called alternative dispute resolution, in which the disputing parties tried to resolve the lawsuit without a trial. Usually, the disputing parties would use a practice called arbitration, in which a third, neutral party decided the case. This decision could or could not be binding.
Proceedings often were delayed by scheduling conflicts among attorneys. This in turn prevented litigants from resolving their issues. Under the change, judges will assign schedules in which the dispute resolutions must take place. This will apply to almost all civil lawsuits. To help resolve the disputes, attorneys will have to use Arbitration, which many attorneys have used and can be compared to a mini-trial; Mediation, in which a neutral party helps settle the case by offering possible solutions; or Neutral Assessment, in which the third party evaluates the case for the litigants and reports what would work. Despite the guidelines, some attorneys say they're not sure what to expect. "Nobody really knows what's going to happen and that's part of the problem," said Anthony R. Arcaro, who also represents injury victims. "There is a lot of uncertainty. We don't know if it's going to cost us more money or cost the defendants more money. It's never been done before."That uncertainty helped increase the number of cases filed in February, before the new rules went into effect.
More than 500 civil suits were filed last month in New Castle County Superior Court, which normally sees between 200 and 300 lawsuits per month. The southern counties did not see as large an increase. "There is always a fear of the unknown," said Joshua W. Martin III, a retired Superior Court judge. While there are still some cases that need to be litigated, the majority of civil cases can be resolved through alternative means, Martin said. Martin, whose practice focuses on arbitration and mediation, said he is aware of some of the concerns lawyers share. But he added that the new processes need to be given a chance. "To tell the truth, we're going to have to see how it works," he said. Cases exempt from the rule include mortgage foreclosure, replevin (recovery of property wrongly taken) and wage attachments. It is estimated that more than 1,000 cases per year will now be required to go into a form of alternative dispute resolution.
It is expected the majority of these cases will go initially to mediation. While the disputing parties are supposed to decide what plan they want to use to resolve their case, the court will assign mediation if the litigants cannot decide. These alternative means should clear the backlog of civil cases in Superior Court and allow the court to focus its limited resources on more complex matters that do not easily lend themselves to alternative resolution in a timely manner. The new rule also has the court setting deadlines in an attempt to dispose of the case more efficiently; something that was not happening under the previous rule. The average disposition time for cases that were going under the old rule was 335 days, said Superior Court Judge Joseph R. Slights III, who helped guide the changes. "The system had been turned on its head in terms of disposition rates," said Slights, adding that part of the court's job is to give parties a prompt day in court. "That's really our core mission for people who file complaints." Like any process, Slights said, it is one that is going to require changes in practice from the perspective of the courts and litigants. "If it is not achieving its desired goal, then we are going to be open to changing it," Slights said. If the case cannot be resolved by alternative resolution, the parties can still take it to trial.
January 14, 2008—Project Rightful Owner Disburses Over $1 Million
Since May 10, 2007 when Superior Court launched Project Rightful Owner the Court has disbursed over $1 million announced Judge Susan C. Del Pesco. The project was launched because the court had nearly $5 million excess proceeds from Sheriff's sales that occurred during the past five years. The funds are waiting to be claimed by the rightful owner of the money. Excess proceeds arise when the value of the property, at the time of sale, exceeds the amount of money needed to pay off all recorded liens and mortgages. Because of the dramatic increase in the value of real estate in recent years, excess proceeds have become more common.
January 9, 2008—Kent County Courthouse Construction Contract Awarded
Delaware Office of Management and Budget Director Jennifer (J.J.) Davis announced the signing of a contract with Nason Construction for the Kent County Courthouse project in Dover. The Kent County Courthouse project consists of the construction of a new courthouse, the connection of the existing courthouse to the new building, renovation of the existing courthouse, and construction of a parking garage to serve the needs of the courthouse complex. The projected opening date of the facility is July 2011. Nason Construction, Inc., headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, provides construction management, design-build and general contracting services for commercial, institutional, and government clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
November 30, 2007—Effective January 1, 2008, all new Civil Complaints, Mechanic's Liens, and Mortgage cases filed with the Prothonotary in any county, whether subject to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or not, shall be filed and/or served electronically using the LexisNexis® File & Serve™ e-Filing system.
Eventually the system will apply to all Superior Court civil filings. Directive 2007-4 expands the use of e-filing to all Civil Complaints including Mechanic's Liens and Mortgages. Note: This designation does not include Civil Appeals.
October 30, 2007—Legislation recently passed created a Court Security Assessment that requires the Courts to collect a fee on each initial civil filing and on each criminal and traffic charge for which there is a conviction.
Under Superior Court Administrative Order 2007-1, effective December 1, 2007, the Prothonotary shall collect a $10.00 Court Security Assessment on all initial civil fillings and on all criminal and traffic charges for which there is a conviction. The assessment will be maintained in a separate account designated as the Court Security Assessment Fund.
October 14, 2007—Judge Susan C. Del Pesco and Special Master Daniel M. Kristol were featured on a WHYY-TV segment to publicize the Superior Court.
The project was launched because the court has nearly $5 million excess proceeds from Sheriff's sales that occurred during the past five years. The funds are waiting to be claimed by the rightful owner of the money. Excess proceeds arise when the value of the property, at the time of sale, exceeds the amount of money needed to pay off all recorded liens and mortgages. Because of the dramatic increase in the value of real estate in recent years, excess proceeds have become more common.
July 19, 2007—Effective August 1, 2007, LexisNexis will begin assessing and collecting Delaware Superior Court's $225.00 additional docket fee on all e-filed cases.
The assessment will be billed to Plaintiff's counsel. This fee is in accordance with Superior Court Civil Rule 77(h).
June 18, 2007—Resident Judge Richard R. Cooch served on the American Judicature Society's (AJS) 4th Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellent three-member selection panel.
The AJS is an independent, national, nonpartisan organization of judges, lawyers, and other members of the public who seek to improve the justice system. AJS' mission is to secure and promote an independent and qualified judiciary and fair system of justice. The primary areas of focus are judicial independence, judicial conduct and ethics, judicial selection, the jury, criminal justice system, and public understanding of the justice system. Annually, AJS presents the Opperman Award to a state judge of a trial or appellate court who has had a career of distinguished judicial service. The nominee must sit on and have at least ten years of judicial service on a trial and/or appellate court of general civil and/or criminal jurisdiction from one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico. The award is named for Dwight D. Opperman, former chairman and CEO of West Publishing Company. This year's panel selected Louisiana's Chief Justice Pascal Calogero Jr.; the award will be presented later this year.
May 9, 2007—New Castle County Superior Court launched Project Rightful Owner to find the people entitled to claim over $5 million in excess proceeds from Sheriff's Sales which have occurred in the past 5 years.
Through a combined effort between the Sheriff of New Castle County, Michael P. Walsh, and Superior Court Judge Susan Del Pesco, the money from past sales has been transferred to Superior Court, in advance of a petition seeking the funds, in order to make it known to owners or their heirs that there are residual funds.
April 26, 2007—The nation's top corporate counsel and senior litigators have recognized the Superior Court of Delaware as the premier court of general jurisdiction in the nation for the sixth year in a row.
April 13, 2007—Superior Court's 175th Anniversary was celebrated by judges, government officials, and distinguished guests at the historic New Castle County Courthouse, in New Castle, Delaware on April 9, 2007.
Although Superior Court's heritage can be traced back more than 337 years to December 6, 1669, our law courts which represent today's Superior Court jurisdiction. They included Superior Court, which heard civil matters, the Court of General Sessions, which heard criminal matters, and the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which heard capital cases and consisted of all four law judges for the other two courts. (View the judges that served under the Constitution of 1831.)
April 1, 2007—Effective April 1, 2007, all new civil actions filed with the Prothonotary in any county subject to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) pursuant to Civil Rule 16.1 shall be filed and/or served electronically LexisNexis™ File & Serve e-filing system.
Superior Court, the first state court in the nation to implement electronic filing in 1991, has direct experience with e-filing through LexisNexis™ File & Serve and the speed, efficiency, storage and cost savings that e-filing provides the Court, counsel and litigants. Eventually the system will apply to all civil filings in the Superior Court. This Directive expands the use of e-filing to all civil filings subject to ADR.
February 5, 2007—Effective Monday, February 5, 2007, the Kent County Sheriff's Office will begin processing all electronically filed Kent County Sheriff Returns using LexisNexis™.
This will only apply to cases which are e-filed using LexisNexis™. Counsel requesting service will receive notice of the return, as the Sheriff's Office will select counsel as a service party.
January 4, 2007—Superior Court announces the formation of a new Complex / Business Litigation Advisory Committee for the management of complex and commercial litigation matters.
January 3, 2007—The Superior Court Civil Rules Advisory Committee has convened to undertake a complete review of its civil rules and make recommendations for appropriate changes.
The committee will consider the recent amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and make recommendations as to whether they should be incorporated into our rules. The committee's review, however, is not limited to the federal rules changes.
January 2, 2007—Judge Joseph R. Slights III, participated as a faculty member in the ALI-ABA course titled Asbestos Litigation in the 21st Century.
This course was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, from November 30-December 1, 2006. Judge Joseph R. Slights III, participated in a Georgetown University Law Center CLE Program entitled: Advanced E-Discovery Institute on November 17, 2006. Judge Slights gave a presentation on E-Discovery in the criminal context.Judge Joseph R. Slights III, and Dr. Mark Haug co-authored an article on "Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court-Appointed Experts." This article was recently published in the Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal, Volume 6, Number 3.
December 15, 2006—By court decree, children throughout the State will be returning to the Delaware Superior Court to witness the third annual reenactment of the courtroom scene of the Miracle on 34th Street.
The event is a joint project of the Courts and the Delaware State Bar Association's Arts Committee. The "hearings" were held in New Castle, Kent and Sussex County Superior Court. Former Attorney General M. Jane Brady, now Superior Court Judge, prosecuted the case herself, "I just have to see this through myself", she said. "I want to make very sure that Kris Kringle has the same opportunity he did last year." By "opportunity", Judge Brady means a chance to meet the children. More than 2000 public and private school children visited one of the Delaware Courtrooms and experienced a trial setting in this reenactment. Justice Henry duPont Ridgely presided on the Superior Court bench.
October 20, 2006—On October 19, 2006, Superior Court Judge Joseph R. Slights III was awarded the Distinguished Mentoring Award by the Delaware State Bar Association.
The Distinguished Mentoring Award is bestowed upon a Delaware lawyer or judge who, by distinguished mentoring of other Delaware lawyers (or future lawyers) over a period of many years, has served as an inspiration to and a model for those lawyers in striving for and maintaining the highest standards.
September 20, 2006—Kent County Superior Court Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. was the featured speaker at Liberty University School of Law's Center for Career and Professional Development Program in Lynchburg, Virginia on September 19, 2006.
Judge Witham's lecture was on the "Code of Pre-trial and Trial Conduct for Attorneys."
August 24, 2006—Effective Tuesday, September 5, 2006, the Kent County Superior Court will allow judgments and execution writs to be filed electronically via LexisNexis™ File & Serve.™
This is only for cases that are subject to Civil Rule 16.1 and the value of the case is over $100,000.00. (Non-Arbitration Cases which have been certified.)
August 24, 2006—Judge William C. Carpenter has been elected to the Executive Committee of the National Conference of State Trial Judges (NCSTJ).
The NCSTJ is a conference of the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. It is the largest national organization of general jurisdiction state judges in the world. Judge Carpenter will serve a two-year term. Judge Carpenter has also been appointed to serve this year as chairman of the American Bar Association (ABA) Judicial Division membership committee. The Judicial Division is comprised of six conferences representing judges who serve in federal and state courts throughout the United States as well as various administrative boards and represents the judiciary in matters that come before the ABA House of Delegates.
August 21, 2006—The Superior Court of Delaware Pattern Jury Instructions for Civil Practice have been revised as of August 15, 2006.
July 6, 2006—On June 29, 2006 the Delaware House of Representatives adopted House Resolution No. 67 which congratulates the Superior Court for the outstanding work that resulted in Delaware being ranked the number one court system for the fifth year in a row by the Harris Poll State Liability Ranking Study.
March 17, 2006—The nation's top corporate counsel and senior litigators have recognized the Superior Court of Delaware as the premier court of general jurisdiction in the country for the fifth year in a row.
March 16, 2006—Judge M. Jane Brady was one of five leaders inducted into the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women.
The Delaware Commission on Women's award ceremony and banquet is one of the state's most prestigious events. It honors a select group of Delaware women for their distinguished contributions and achievements toward improving the lives of others. Eighty-seven women, representing advocacy, volunteerism, business, education, law, government, medicine, and other fields have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
February 14, 2006—Cell Phone and Personal Communication Device Policy Curbs Use in Courthouses!
View New Castle County Policy. (Effective November 1, 2005.) View Kent County Policy. (Effective January 1, 2006.) View (Effective December 1, 2005.)
September 16, 2006—At a Special Session in the New Castle County Courthouse, the Superior Court of Delaware
At the ceremony, the Superior Court and the Multicultural Judges and Lawyers Section of the Delaware State Bar Association unveiled a portrait of Judge Alford, the first African-American female judge appointed to a Delaware constitutional court, and also named Courtroom 8A in honor of Judge Alford. View the complete 16 September 2005 Special Session's remarks of Superior Court President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. and Resident Judge Richard R. Cooch.
September 1, 2006—Delaware Superior Court
He assumed the role of International Judge in the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. View Related Press Coverage and the Complete Transcript of Remarks by Judicial Colleagues and Government Officials at the New Castle County Courthouse Retirement.