Friday, April 5, 2019

CCMS Audit Mode...

Our good friend and former NCSC colleague, Larry Webster says that caseflow management is akin to a leaf in a stream.  Sometimes the leaf is caught by the current and moves quickly.  Other times the leaf is caught by a tree-branch or gets stuck against the bank. 

Court case management systems (CCMS) exist to control and oversee the processing and flow of the matters brought before the court.  To achieve this goal, and to guide policy, we use the CCMS to create court statistical reports.  But we need to ask more from these statistical reports.  We explain below:


Court statistical reports have traditionally counted the number of cases filed, terminated and the number of pending matters at the end of the period.  In recent years the NCSC has recommended the addition of cases reopened that will identify that work and add to the pending count.  These case counts are provided by case type category.  All good. 

But in the new CCMS’s we are developing have added some new concepts that add context to the pending case counts.  These two new concepts (that also help with other statistics are) first, “case phase and second, “case status”.

Case phase provides information when a case is filed, whether it is awaiting fee payment in say a civil matter or assignment to a division or judge.  Similarly, while a case is pending we can see the step that the matter is at such as discovery, motion, expert witness report, pretrial.  We can then build spreadsheets/graphics to show how many case matters are at what stage which in turn we help us predict judicial workload.

Case status lets one count where a pending case is active, inactive, or even if there are problems with the matter such as inactive-notice failure.  This, in turn, allows the court on a regular basis to examine the case to see if there is an action that can be taken to correct the problem or else, possibly dismiss the case without prejudice (which means for my international friends that the matter can be refiled.

Now let’s discuss the title of this post, “audit mode”.  In one of the first CCMS that I created the system obviously could produce the periodic (you could enter a begin and end date) court case statistics.  But both the courts and I wanted those statistics to be accurate.  Therefore, the system also had the ability to list the cases that had been counted in each report cell by the statistical report program.  The result was that many times the court staff reported that they were able to find the data entry errors that had been made and since the error had only happened since the previous report, they were easy to correct. 

We need to know where the leaves are in our court "streams".  These ideas can help.

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