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Mary Willis
Chief Administrative Officer

Judicial Administration > Primer for Developing Caseload Allocation Plan Primer for Developing Caseload Allocation Plan

Background

Indiana Administrative Rule 1(E) requires the judges of the courts of record in each county to develop and implement a caseload allocation plan (CAP) for the county.  The judges of the courts of record in each judicial district may also develop a district CAP.  The goal of the CAP is to ensure equitable distribution of the workload in counties with multiple judicial officers, promote more timely resolution of cases, and provide an objective basis for examining the work of our courts. What follows is a step-by-step guide on how to navigate the shoals of the CAP process.

When

Administrative Rule 1(E) requires each county to review its plan at least every other year.

How to do it

Start with your existing, approved plan that is contained in your local rule. Next, examine the Weighted Caseload Measures for your county that are posted on-line by April 15 of each year. The Weighted Caseload Measures provides a relative weight or count, in minutes, for each case. It is based on the prior year’s Quarterly Caseload Statistics Reports. This research will provide you with the "Utilization" factor for your court.

Need ÷ Have = Utilization. The following excerpt from the 2015 Weighted Caseload Measures will illustrate.

2015 Weighted Caseload Measures

COUNTY COURT COURT NAME NEED HAVE UTILIZATION

HAMILTON

29C01

HAMILTON CIRCUIT COURT

1.96

1.51

1.30

 

29D01

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 1

2.27

1.82

1.25

 

29D02

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 2

1.29

1.21

1.07

 

29D03

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 3

1.85

1.45

1.27

 

29D04

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 4

1.58

1.39

1.14

 

29D05

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 5

1.67

1.38

1.21

 

29D06

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 6

1.49

1.24

1.20

 

 

Total/Average

12.11

10.00

1.21

The "Utilization" factor is the linchpin of the entire CAP process. It will show if a court has a caseload well above capacity or if it is underutilized. In Indiana the factors range from figures like .34 to 2.14. The standard is 1.0 but the statewide average in 2015 was 1.06. A low caseload utilization figure does not mean that a court is not working efficiently or diligently, just as a high caseload utilization figure does not always mean a court is working exceedingly hard. Because these measures only count filed cases, the utilization number represents how much work a particular court has to process in a given year.

Rule 1(E) once required all of the courts in a given county have utilization factors that were within a .40 variance of each other, but on 1/26/17 the rule was amended and this requirement was removed.  Although there is no longer a requirement that all courts in a county be within a .40 variance of one another, they are still required to have a CAP that ensures an even distribution of cases between all of the courts of record in the county.  Once a CAP has been prepared, it must be approved by at least a 75% vote of the judges.  Using Hamilton County as an example, you can see that the highest utilization is the Circuit Court at 1.30 and the lowest utilization is Superior Court 2 at 1.07, resulting in a difference in utilization of .23. If the spread between the courts in Hamilton County was larger, improvements in caseload equalization could be made by shifting the filing of one or more category of case types from one court to another and/or by reassigning judges and other judicial officers. As you can see, Hamilton County has 7 courts of record but 10 judicial officers total. By their allocation of caseloads and the judicial officers available to handle them, Hamilton County was able to meet the standards of Rule 1(E). The Indiana Office of Judicial Administration (IOJA) is always available to assist with this process if needed.

Weighted Caseload Example 1 UPDATED!
Weighted Caseload Example 2 UPDATED!

Start with your existing numbers, which can be obtained locally by printing out copies of all the QCSRs that you filed or from the IOJA. Once the CAP has been developed and is shown to ensure an even distribution of caseloads among the judges, at least 75% of the judges in the county have to approve it by a vote. Once the plan has been submitted to the IOJA, the IOJA may ask the county to explain any of the variances between the courts.  The IOJA will then submit the plan to the Supreme Court for approval.  The next step is to put it into the form of a local rule.

Local Rules

Trial Rule 81 Deadlines

DATE EVENT

Prior to June 1

Submit text of the CAP to the IOJA

June 1

Thirty-day comment period

July1-July 31

Trial Courts must approve a final plan

August 1 or before

Submit locally approved plan to IOJA

August 1-October 1

The IOJA will review plans and make recommendation to the Supreme Court for approval, modification or rejection

October 1 or before

Supreme Court review and decision

November 1 or before

Revised plans due to Supreme Court

November 15 or before

Supreme Court review and decisions on any resubmitted plans

January 1 following year

Approved plans become effective

The first step in this phase of the process is to show the changes to the existing plan with strikethroughs and standard rule revision formatting.

Local Rule Formatting Example

Step two is provide Notice of the proposed rule change. Publication of the Notice is considered complete when the courts send the text of the CAP in a digital format to IOJA and the County Clerk on or before June 1.

Notice of Proposed Rule Change Example

The Clerk will post the notice in the clerk’s office and on its website if it has one. IOJA will also post the CAP on the Indiana Judicial System website for that particular county at http://www.in.gov/judiciary. The trial courts are also required to notify the president and secretary of any local county bar associations.

June 1 is opening day of the 30-day comment period. Each court selects who shall receive public comments for the court Follow the notice guidelines in Indiana Trial Rule 81.

Between July 1 and 31, the trial courts must approve a final plan. The plan can be identical to the one first submitted or modified based on comments or other information.

By August 1, the trial courts must submit the now locally approved plan to IOJA digitally and in hard copy in a clean format absent of strikethroughs and underlinings together with a request to the Supreme Court to approve the plan.

Local Rule Clean Format Example
Request for Approval of Local Rules Example

Between August 1 and October 1, IOJA will review the plans and make recommendation to the Indiana Supreme Court for approval, modification, or rejection.

By October 1, the Supreme Court will review the plans and either approve, reject, or return them for revisions.

By November 1, any revised plans are due to the Supreme Court.

By November 15, the Supreme Court will make its final decision on any resubmitted plans.

On January 1, the approved plans become effective. For the trial courts, the CAP process is complete, until 18 months later, when it begins again.

Two caveats: If a county fails to produce a plan, the Supreme Court will require IOJA to draft one for the county. Also, a county can revise its plan outside of the normal schedule. An ad hoc schedule will be developed that generally follows the same time periods for comment and Supreme Court approval.

If a county believes they have an even distribution of caseloads and no changes are needed to be made to their current CAP, they may submit a prior CAP with a Request for Approval to Re-Adopt Current Caseload Allocation Rule.  The request must be sent to the IOJA in a digital format.

Request for Approval to Readopt Caseload Example

Contact IOJA if you have any questions. Our court analyst, James Diller, jim.diller@courts.IN.gov is available to assist and make suggestions in development of your plans, and staff attorney, James Maguire, james.maguire@courts.IN.gov, can answer any questions you might have about the local rules process. Jeff Wiese, Director of Trial Court Management, jeffrey.wiese@courts.IN.gov, is always willing to help you as well.