Welcome to the Superior Court of Delaware!
Superior Court proudly celebrated its 175th Anniversary this year on April 9, the day of the first session of the Court in 1892. To commemorate this anniversary, a special session of Superior Court was held in the New Castle Court House in historic old New Castle. Here, Delaware judges, government officials, and distinguished guests gathered to honor and recall the Court's history and the people.
As of April 1, 2007, all new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) complaints filed in Superior Court are filed electronically (e-filed). With the addition of the ADR cases, the majority of the Court's civil caseload is now e-filed. On the Superior Court website, the ADR membership listing pages were reformatted and upgraded. ADR filings across the state for 2007 numbered 3,453.
Statewide for 2007, Superior Court filings totaled 23,075, a 10 percent increase over last year; dispositions totaled 22,231, an 11 percent increase. The number of non-first degree murder cases moving through the system within allotted time frames remains consistent. At the end of June this year, 30 Murder 1st cases were pending in Superior Court. Additionally, the Court disposed of 5,134 Violation of Probation cases.
Superior Court's mortgage foreclosure filings have been steadily on the rise this year, and the trend is expected to continue. In keeping with its commitment to serving the public, the Court is involved in two projects associated with mortgage foreclosures-one initiated by the Office of the State Bank Commissioner (OSBC), and one initiated on its own.
At the request of the OSBC, the Court agreed to give access to its JIC database for a study on mortgage foreclosure filings. This in-depth study was released this fiscal year. The study, in part, estimated "that 46% of owners in foreclosure either lost or sold their home subsequent to the foreclosure filing." OSBC has established initiatives to help home owners avoid foreclosures, and it continues to monitor monthly data supplied by the Superior Court Prothonotary Offices. Last quarter's data showed a 32% increase in foreclosures across the state.
Project Rightful Owner went live on May 10, 2007. Conceived by Superior Court Judge Susan Del Pesco, the project is designed to help give something back to those citizens who have already lost their homes through Sheriff's sales. Project Rightful Owner seeks to unite nearly $5 million in excess proceeds of Sheriff's sales with those to whom it rightfully belongs. The project has received some media coverage, and the process is fully outlined on the Court's website. It takes some time and effort to recover these excess proceeds. Even so, to date, over 30 disbursements of surplus funds have been released.
As the COTS initiative moves forward, with each successful implementation seemingly coming faster and faster, Superior Court prepares for Phase 3, in early 2008. Phase 3 will bring the Sussex County civil cases on to the new Contexte case management system. Superior Court judges and staff meet regularly with our Core Team members and Project Team representatives so that the Contexte system will work for us and the entire Judiciary.
Finally, it is six years in a row now that Superior Court has been recognized as the premier court of general jurisdiction in the country by The Harris Poll State Liability Systems Ranking Study. It is gratifying to know that the Court's core values of unity, neutrality, integrity, timeliness, equality, and dedication, are working for the public it serves.
— President Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. —