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Delaware Docket Newsletter
Fall 2011

Delaware Courts Selected as Pilot Site for Mental Health Court Project

Following the completion of the civil phase of the COTS automated civil case management system, the Supreme Court adopted a modified governance structure for technology in 2010 through a revision to Supreme Court Administrative Directive 176. That approach, called the Delaware Courts Automation Project (DCAP), represents a change from the earlier COTS project approach. A key feature of DCAP is that it leverages existing technology to enhance and modernize the trial courts' criminal case management systems, as well as the Family Court civil case management system. DCAP's goal is to improve the courts' ability to manage their caseloads and to serve the needs of the public and the Bar; to enhance information sharing capabilities across courts and agencies; to streamline court processes and procedures; and to capitalize on state-of-the-art technologies as a means of gaining court operational efficiencies.

DCAP is governed by the Project Leadership Team (PLT), which is chaired by Justice Henry duPont Ridgely, and includes the Presiding Judge of the affected trial courts, the State Court Administrator, and the Secretary of the State's Department of Technology and Information (or designee) as an ex officio member. The PLT has responsibility for overall project planning and implementation, and oversees the activities of the Trial Courts Coordinating Committee (TCCC).  The TCCC, chaired by Marianne Kennedy, Court Administrator of the Justice of the Peace Court, includes the Court Administrators of the affected trial courts and oversees the project management team, consisting of the Project Manager, Functional Lead/ Team, and Technical Lead/Team.

DCAP Project Manager, Dale Matthews, reports to the TCCC and oversees the project's progress to ensure timely delivery of products that meet the courts' needs. He works with the project teams to develop and implement a comprehensive project plan addressing resource requirements, risks, communications, implementation schedules, change management, vendor relationships, and financials. The Technical Lead, Don Hudgins, oversees the technical team of Judicial Information Center staff, that develop the final product. He is responsible for developing and implementing the project's technology plan and in ensuring that the appropriate systems, equipment, and technology development approaches are in place to implement the technological improvements. The Functional Lead, Tom Mraz, works with the courts to define their needs and document the desired processes and results. He ensures that the functional team performs user acceptance testing and that the courts agree to move forward with the proposed solutions. 

Steps already completed with DCAP include development of plans addressing critical project areas, such as:

  • Communications Plan—Outlines the method and frequency of communication with all DCAP stakeholders and interested parties
  • Risk Management Plan—Addresses the mitigation or management of risks that may impact the project's success
  • Resource Plan—Defines the staff resources required for the project and their responsibilities
  • Project Schedule—Provides a detailed view of all project activities with scheduled start and completion dates
  • Project Spending Plan—Details the project budget and spending over the project life cycle

DCAP consists of four project phases, or portfolios, of technological projects and will be implemented through 2015.  The first phase, Portfolio 1, was launched on August 1, 2011. It consists of:

  • Single View/Inquiry: Developing a new single view containing case data and documents pulled from different databases into a consolidated screen, which will provide easier access to case information by court staff and judicial officers
  • Bail Posting: Eliminating manual check writing and ledgers by courts related to the posting of bail
  • Document Management: Providing the ability to store court documents in an electronic format and to link those documents to appropriate cases and records
  • Eliminate Case Acceptance: Allowing cases to automatically transfer between courts rather than requiring manual acceptance
  • Superior Court Financials: Migrating of Superior Court financial information to an internally managed database
  • E-Filing: Expanding e-filing to include all criminal and Family Court civil cases

Efforts undertaken since the beginning of Portfolio 1 in August 2011 include the documentation of the business requirements for the Bail Posting and Single View projects. JIC is in the process of developing the technical plans necessary to translate the business requirements into actual technological improvements.

In Portfolios 2 through 4, additional technological improvements in the court's systems will be implemented, such as enhancements to court financial management systems and sentencing components in the case management system, e-payment, automated documents forms and generation, and expanded interfaces with justice agencies. As DCAP progresses, regular updates will be provided to all court staff.