Indiana Supreme Court
Division of State Court Administration
30 S. Meridian Street, Ste. 500
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Lilia G. Judson, Esq.
Executive Director

David J. Remondini, Esq.
Chief Deputy Executive Director

Pho: 317-232-2542
Fax: 317-233-6586

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State Court Administration > Publications > Primer for Developing Caseload Allocation Plan Primer for Developing Caseload Allocation Plan

Background

Among the common rites of spring, like the return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano or the opening of the NCAA basketball tournament, is the production of the Caseload Allocation Plan (CAP) for Indiana’s trial courts.

Governed by a seemingly complicated array of intricate rules, schedules and guidelines and arcane terms like “utilization” and “caseload measure,” the creation of a CAP is actually a straightforward process that can bring order out of the chaos of the nearly two million cases filed annually in Indiana.

A CAP can 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. Finally, it provides a reliable benchmark to judge your workload against your colleagues around the state. What follows is a step-by-step guide on how to navigate the shoals of the CAP process.

The Process

Our journey begins with Administrative Rule 1(E), which is the heart and soul of the CAP process. It requires a CAP that “ensures an even distribution of judicial workload among the courts of record in the county.” While the rule may seem complex, it is actually quite readable.

The first inquiry involves the timing of the plan. Each county’s plan must be reviewed at least every other year under a schedule adopted by State Court Administration.

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 is 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 2007 Weighted Caseload Measures will illustrate.

2007 Weighted Caseload Measures

COUNTY COURT COURT NAME NEED HAVE UTILIZATION NOTE

HAMILTON

29C01

HAMILTON CIRCUIT COURT

1.94

1.51

1.28

29D01

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 1

2.64

1.82

1.45

29D02

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 2

1.75

1.41

1.24

29D03

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 3

2.22

1.55

1.43

29D04

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 4

1.75

1.39

1.26

29D05

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 5

1.61

1.28

1.26

29D06

HAMILTON SUPERIOR COURT 6

1.43

1.04

1.37

Total/Average

13.34

10.00

1.33

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 woefully underutilized. In Indiana the factors range from figure like .40 to 2.43. The standard is 1.0 but the statewide average is 1.22. 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) requires that the courts in a given county have utilization factors that are within .40 of each other. Using Hamilton County as an example, you can see that the highest utilization is Superior Court 1 at 1.45 and the lowest utilization is Superior Court 2 at 1.24, resulting in a difference in utilization of .21. But if the spread between the factors is greater than .40 something has to give. Courts generally resolve this large a variance in utilization factors 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 shifting judicial resources. 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). State Court Administration can assist with this process. However, many judges have found much joy in developing their own plans. You are welcome to use these spreadsheets to tinker with your own plans:

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 State Court Administration. For example, simply moving all of the Class A Felonies from one court to another may reduce the variance in utilization factors enough to bring your plan into compliance. Once the CAP has been developed and is shown to be in compliance with the permissible .40 variance, all the judges in the county have to approve it. 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 State Court Administration

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 State Court Administration

August 1-October 1

State Court Administration 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 State Court Administration 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. State Court Administration 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 State Court Administration 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, State Court Administration will review the plans and make recommendation to the Indiana Supreme Court for approval, modification, or rejection. During this period the staff of State Court Administration works assiduously to make sure no plan is in danger of being rejected.

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 State Court Administration 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.

The best news of all is that if you are still within the permitted .40 of the utilization variance, you may simply submit your prior plan with a simple petition, but don’t forget to send it to us digitally too.

Request for Approval to Readopt Caseload Example

That is all there is to it. Contact State Court Administration if you have any questions. Our court analysts, James Diller, jdiller@courts.state.in.us and Angela James, ajames@courts.state.in.us, are available to assist and make suggestions in development of your plans, and staff attorney, James Maguire, jmaguire@courts.state.in.us, can answer any questions you might have about the local rules process. James R. Walker, Director of Trial Court Management, jwalker@courts.state.in.us, is always willing to help you as well.