Welcome to the Superior Court of Delaware!
For the fourth year in a row, Superior Court of Delaware has been recognized as the premier court of general jurisdiction in the country. The Harris Poll State Liability Systems Ranking Study conducted for the United Sates Chamber Institute for Legal Reform measured corporate America's perception of which state is doing the best job of creating a fair and reasonable litigation environment. Delaware continues to rank number one overall.
Fiscal Year 2005 brought several changes to the Superior Court bench. First, on July 22, 2004, after 20 years with Superior Court, the last 14 years as President Judge, the Honorable Henry DuPont Ridgely was appointed to the Supreme Court of Delaware. Next, on October 14, 2004, we welcomed our new President Judge, the Honorable James T. Vaughn Jr., formerly Kent County's Resident Judge. Consequently, the Honorable William L. Witham Jr., became Resident Judge of Kent County on January 19, 2005. Finally, on February 17, 2005, the chain of events triggered by Justice Ridgely's appointment ended when the Honorable Robert B. Young was appointed to the Kent County Superior Court vacancy.
In this year, there were 19,798 dispositions (civil and criminal), an increase of two percent (+382 cases) from the end of the Fiscal Year 2004. The number of non-first degree murder cases moving through the system within allotted time frames remains consistent. Of the non-first degree murder criminal cases, 67 percent were disposed within 120 days of indictment; and the rates for those cases disposed within 180 days and within one year remain consistent as well. A total of seven capital murder cases went to trial this year.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) filings this year were up 4.7 percent statewide. Even with this increase in filings, the Court continued to see a rise in its disposition rate with a 13.5 percent statewide increase. The ADR Help-desk responded to over 100 inquiries from arbitrators and mediators needing information or assistance concerning scheduling.
Superior Court's Listserv information service continues to grow. Eighteen separate Listservs are maintained, with over 1300 members to provide instant notification to our users. Users include attorneys, state officials, insurance companies, research utilities, and universities. Our Web Feedback Help-desk responded to over 229 citizens who had questions regarding how to locate information on the Court's opinions and orders, forms, fees, records, and jury duty.
The COTS initiative has Superior Court judicial and non-judicial personnel involved at many levels: the Operations Steering Committee, Executive Steering Committee, the Core Team, the Working Committee, Training Team, and Change Management Team, down to the subcommittee level. We remain dedicated to and supportive of making this effort successful for the entire judiciary. With so many involved in COTS however, it is not an easy task to maintain our high standard of service to the public. Special recognition is due all Superior Court staff for its collective dedication to maintaining a level of excellence in all areas.
Superior Court is UNITED in its core values of unity, neutrality, integrity, timeliness, equality, and dedication. Our vision still holds in being the best Superior Court in the nation by providing superior service to the public in pursuit of justice. We continue to build on the quality of justice and public service for which we are known in our own state and every other state in the nation.
— President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. —