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Trial Court Integrated Management Solution

Project Purpose

The purpose of the Trial Court Integrated Management Solution (TIMS) project is to develop an automated solution to address certain major needs of the trial court system and to advance the goals and strategies of the Long-Range Strategic Plan of the Florida Judicial Branch 2009-2015.  The TIMS project will involve four main phases.

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Project Background

Over the course of many years, a variety of individuals with a vested interest in the effectiveness and efficiency of the judicial branch have recognized the need for automating several functions of the trial court system.  In fact, several circuits and counties have developed automated systems that are specific to their localities for case management, document management, and scheduling case events.  Further, the Office of the State Courts Administrator (OSCA) has developed summary data systems such as the Summary Reporting System (SRS) and Uniform Data Reporting System (UDR); case management systems such as the Florida Dependency Court Information System (FDCIS); and other systems such as the Judicial Inquiry System (JIS) which are used or intended to be used statewide by the trial courts.  Many of the above systems have been developed in-house by court staff, while there have been other systems developed by outside vendors or professional associations such as the Comprehensive Case Information System (CCIS) which was developed by the Florida Association of Court Clerks (FACC).

Generally, the main goal of local automation projects has been to support those on the front-line such as judges, court staff, and clerks in their ability to efficiently and effectively process cases, and in turn, better meet the needs of those coming into contact with the court system.  This is also true of statewide automation projects.  However, one difference between local and statewide automation projects is that often statewide automation has a goal of producing uniform and comparable information that feeds policy decisions of the Supreme Court and their appointed committees for the management of the entire court system, especially following Revision 7 of Article V of the Florida Constitution which unified the trial courts under state funding.  For example, this information may assist with decisions of the Trial Court Budget Commission (TCBC) which impact resources allocated to each circuit.  This information may also assist with the monitoring of performance measures by the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability (TCP&A) to ensure the effective delivery of services in each circuit.

Research, Reports, and Other Documentation

There have been a significant number of research projects, reports, and other documentation pertaining to the need for automation in the trial courts.  For instance, in January 2006, the Article V Technology Board issued a final report to assist with accomplishing the integration of disparate information systems for the benefit of the court system and the various entities involved with the court system.  They recommended several actions such as the creation of a:  catalog of common data elements; data exchange standards and protocol; infrastructure and network standards and protocol; and security and access standards and protocol.

In 2008, the Florida Legislature directed the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) to study judicial case management practices.  In its report 09-06, Judicial Case Management Practices Vary Throughout State; Better Case Data Needed, OPPAGA found that:

Judges indicated that reliable data is critical to efficiently manage circuit caseloads. Some circuits have court information technology staff that have created or implemented case management software that provides reports for judges. Judges in these circuits and counties reported that these systems provide them information needed to manage workload effectively. However, judges in other circuits and counties report that they lack information needed to meet their case management needs. In some circuits, other elected courts system officers such as state attorneys maintain statistical case data that they share with judges, court administrators, and the other elected court officers. In other circuits, individual judges reported keeping their own statistics because they couldn’t rely on available data.

In 2009, the Legislature also directed the Technology Review Workgroup (TRW) to study and develop recommendations pertaining to trial court technology.  In its February 1, 2010 report, Plan for Identifying and Recommending Options for Implementing the Integrated Computer System for the State Court System, the TRW provided several findings and conclusions including:

  • The state does not have a comprehensive statewide strategic plan that establishes a road map for developing and implementing the integrated computer system for the state courts.
  • There is no agreed-to business process model or system architecture for the integrated computer system for the state courts.
  • Uniform standards needed to implement the integrated computer system cannot be established until the business processes represented by the terms “case management” and “case maintenance” have been defined.
  • The state court system has not identified statewide systems of record for one or more functions in each court division.

Judge Judith L. Kreeger, Chair of the Florida Courts Technology Commission (FCTC) issued a response to the TRW’s report stating:

…we believe that a statewide integrated computer system should be limited to the courts and the clerks, and that data sharing among the broader group of justice system partners should be maximized.  To achieve integration, standards for specific court functions and business processes could be set and systems developed and authorized in accordance with these standards…we agree that a multiple systems option is optimal and doable.  One additional result with this approach could be the elimination of the case management/case maintenance distinction altogether.  Vendors across the country provide court case management applications that are capable of performing all of the functions that present statutes unnecessarily distinguish as case maintenance and case management.  It is in fact a wasteful redundancy to purchase separate applications to perform case maintenance and case management functions.  One application should do both, and with proper governance, planning and redirected funding, the needs of the court system could be met.  Most importantly, Florida could do a better job in automating court related services in a uniform fashion, making them convenient to use and maximizing the investment of taxpayer dollars. 

Additionally, for several years, the court system has been working on automating the case intake process for filing court documents.  In 2008, the Legislature supported these efforts by mandating a transition to the electronic filing – “e-filing” – of court records and requesting that the Supreme Court set e-filing standards.  The Supreme Court approved e-filing standards on July 1, 2009 in AOSC09-30.  During the 2009 Legislative Session, the Legislature also mandated that, “…the state courts system will accelerate the implementation of the electronic filing requirements of section 16 of chapter 2009-61, Laws of Florida, by implementing five of the ten trial court divisions by January 1, 2011…”  This effort is currently on track under the oversight and direction of the FCTC. Closely connected to e-filing is the E-Filing Court Records Portal (e-portal) which is the statewide access point for the transmission of electronic court records to and from all Florida Courts.  Pursuant to an inter-local agreement between the Clerk of the Supreme Court (as a designee of the Chief Justice) and eight circuit clerks of court, the clerks created an E-Filing Authority (Authority) to:  1) design, develop, implement, operate, upgrade, support, and maintain the E-Filing Court Records Portal through contract with the FACC and/or its wholly owned subsidiary- the FACC Services Group (FACCSG) and 2) provide the most economic and efficient method for e-filing court records.  The Authority is governed by a Board of Directors which includes the Chair of the Authority, seven circuit court clerks, and the Clerk of the Supreme Court.  An affirmative vote of the Clerk of the Supreme Court is required for matters related to court functions, among other issues.

Furthermore, in March 2010, the Court Statistics and Workload Committee (CSWC) of the TCP&A issued a report titled, Case Management System Design Framework.  This report was developed in response to a charge from the Supreme Court in AOSC08-32 to develop long term plans for technology to support trial court information needs.  The report covered:  design principles, the use of current data collection systems, security and confidentiality, and the need for other standards for such a system.

Finally, one of the most important documents addressing automation of trial court functions is the Long-Range Strategic Plan of the Florida Judicial Branch 2009-2015, in which the Supreme Court adopted several goals and strategies that speak to automation and its intended purpose related to achieving the mission and vision of the judicial branch and how it may assist with improving accessibility, fairness, effectiveness, responsiveness, and accountability of the court system. 

Goals Strategies
2.1 - Cases will be processed effectively, efficiently, and in a timely manner. -Develop the capacity of the State Courts System to timely monitor key caseload and workload information at the circuit, appellate, and statewide levels.
2.2 - The State Courts System will utilize public resources effectively, efficiently, and in an accountable manner. -Enhance the capacity of the State Courts System to manage court resources and services in a cost-effective and accountable manner.
-Continue to develop and institutionalize performance and accountability management systems that implement best practices in resource management.
2.3 - The State Courts System will have an adequate statewide information technology system adequate to support effective and efficient case management and management of caseloads and court resources. -Develop and implement standards that effectuate the equitable statewide deployment of functionally compatible information technology infrastructure within the judicial branch, or;
-Enact policies that coordinate the deployment of compatible information technology infrastructure within the judicial branch.
-Institute policies to build a comprehensive uniform statewide case management information system that integrates the case maintenance systems of the clerks of the circuit courts.
-Expand and integrate information technology systems statewide that support best practices within the courts, including resources management and performance measurement systems.
-Implement uniform statewide State Courts System communication technologies, including electronic filing, electronic access to court records, electronic scheduling, and electronic appearance of attorneys and parties.
-Continue to improve data sharing and data integration with justice system partners.
5.1 - The State Courts System will be accountable to the public for its use of public resources and overall performance. -Monitor and evaluate court performance.

Overall, it is clear that those on the front-line of the trial court system such as judges, court staff, and clerks and those at the state level such as the Supreme Court, court committees, and the Legislature, along with other individuals and groups, agree that the trial courts need a standardized statewide solution for addressing the automation of certain court functions.

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Project Phases

  • Phase One - Develop recommendations regarding the standardized information that needs to be accessed and tracked by judges, case managers, and other staff in order to move cases efficiently and effectively through the trial court process and the standardized caseload and workload information needed at the circuit and statewide reporting levels essential for performance monitoring and resource management.
  • Phase Two - Perform a technology assessment and develop recommendations regarding the technological approach that is the most feasible to develop an automated solution that addresses the needs identified in Phase One.
  • Phase Three - Develop a recommended implementation plan for TIMS.

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Project Scope

The project will address the automation of two major trial court functions: 1) case processing and 2) performance monitoring.  The project will also address six sub-functions under case processing:  1) case intake, 2) document management, 3) case management, 4) case scheduling, 5) court proceedings, and 6) resource management.  All divisions and case types in which these functions are performed by judges, quasi-judicial officers, judicial assistants, case managers, and other court staff will be covered.  Information needs of court committees will also be considered.  Clerk of court functions will be considered in so far as they have an impact on the court’s needs.  Non-court related functions performed by clerk staff will not be addressed in this project (e.g., recorder and financial duties for the county).  Definitions for the applicable trial court functions and sub-functions developed by OSCA and approved by Trial Court Administrators and the FCTC in early 2010 are as follows:

Case Processing- functions that involve the efficient and effective processing of cases through the court system, including:

  • Case Intake- functions related to the filing and perfecting of court pleadings including sufficient information to support differentiated case management.
  • Document Management- functions involved in the processing, maintenance and handling of court documents.
  • Case Management/Tracking- functions involved in moving cases through the various stages of the trial court process leading to greater certainty, predictability, and efficiency in how a case is progressing through the system.
  • Case Scheduling- functions related to calendaring and scheduling proceedings and case events.
  • Court Proceedings- functions related to the processing of cases in the courtroom.
  • Resource Management- functions related to the assignment, monitoring, and analysis of resources that support the adjudicatory process and ensure the protection of due process rights.

Performance Monitoring- functions that involve monitoring performance at both the state and local level including indicators of:  access & fairness, workload coverage, timeliness, quality & uniformity of services, efficient use of resources, and reliability & integrity of records.

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Project Sponsors

The Supreme Court will govern the TIMS project.  As such, the Chief Justice has issued related charges or directives to four court committees that will act as the primary sponsors of the project and will subsequently submit recommendations to the Supreme Court:

Primary Supreme Court Committee Sponsors:

Commission / Committee Charge / Directive
Commission on Trial Court Performance & Accountability and Court Statistics and Workload Committee

(AOSC10-48)

Consistent with Goals 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 5.1 of the Long-Range Strategic Plan of the Florida Judicial Branch 2009-2015, identify the information, by case type, that needs to be accessed and tracked by judges, case managers, and other court staff in order to move cases efficiently and effectively through the trial court process.  Additionally, identify the key caseload and workload information needed at the circuit and statewide reporting levels essential for performance monitoring and resource management.  The Commission shall collaborate with the Florida Courts Technology Commission and submit a report to the Supreme Court with related recommendations on or before July 1, 2012.   The Court Statistics and Workload Committee of the Commission on Trial Court Performance and Accountability shall establish uniform data definitions, guidelines, and standards for data collection and reporting necessary to produce consistent, automated trial court case management statewide, in accordance with the recommendations of the Commission.

Through the Court Statistics and Workload Committee, continue to address policy issues as necessary to maintain the integrity of the Summary Reporting System, the Weighted Caseload Model, the Uniform Data Reporting System, and other data collection efforts related to trial court activity.  The Committee shall provide direction for addressing special data collection needs requested by the Florida Legislature or other government bodies and guidance in the development of standardized reporting systems for the trial courts.  The Committee shall continue to provide policy guidance related to data collection and analysis pertaining to trial court activity, workload, supplemental resources, and performance measures.

Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Court
(AOSC10-50)
Collaborate with other court committees, as appropriate, to identify and define the data elements necessary for effective family court case management.
Florida Courts Technology Commission
(Rule 2.236, Florida Rules of Judicial Administration)
Oversee, manage, and direct the development and use of technology within the judicial branch including:  making recommendations to the Supreme Court on all matters of technology policy impacting the judicial branch; reviewing and approving recommendations made by any court committee concerning technology matters or otherwise implicating court technology policy; establishing, periodically reviewing, and updating technical standards for technology used and to be used in the judicial branch to receive, manage, maintain, use, secure, and distribute court records by electronic means, consistent with the technology policies established by the Supreme Court; developing and maintaining security policies that must be utilized to ensure the integrity and availability of court technology systems and related data; ensuring that the technology utilized in the judicial branch is capable of required integration; and periodically reviewing and evaluating all approved technology in the judicial branch to determine its adherence to current supreme court technology policies and standards.

Project Partners/Subject Matter Experts:

  • Clerks of Court and their staff
  • Florida Association of Court Clerks
  • Trial Court Budget Commission
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Committee
  • MultiDisciplinary Dependency Court Improvement Panel
  • Florida Conference of Circuit Judges
  • Florida Conference of County Judges
  • Trial Court Chief Judges
  • Trial Court Administrators and their staff (e.g., court technology officers, case managers, etc.)
  • Office of the State Court Administrator staff
  • State Attorneys
  • Public Defenders
  • Private Bar
  • Legal Aid Associations
  • State Agency representatives (e.g., DCF, FDLE, DOC, DOR, etc.)
  • Outreach to other stakeholder groups as needed

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Project Collaboration Strategies

The Chairs of all primary committees sponsoring this project agree to the following strategies to ensure appropriate collaboration and open lines of communication across all committees, subject matter experts, and stakeholder groups involved.

  1. Assignment of a project liaison across the commissions/committees.
  2. Cross-membership on any subcommittees or workgroups created for the project.
  3. Notice and invitation to attend commission/committee meetings when project is on agenda.
  4. Periodic status updates regarding the progress of the project via e-mail and web postings.
  5. Meaningful inclusion of subject matter experts and other stakeholder groups in the development of project recommendations.
  6. Outreach of project recommendations to the other commissions/committees before final approval.
  7. For project phases and tasks that require the involvement of two or more commissions/committees, leadership and/or liaisons of these committees will collaborate on the efficient and effective distribution of work. 

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Project Principles

  • During Phase One, when identifying the standardized information that needs to be accessed and tracked by judges, case managers, and other staff in order to move cases efficiently and effectively through the trial court process, the threshold questions will be:
    • Is this information necessary and sufficient to move cases through the adjudicatory process?
    • And
    • Is this information necessary to measure, manage, and be accountable for the efficiency and effectiveness of cases moving through the adjudicatory process?
    • It is anticipated that it may not be possible to track all information; however, every attempt will be made to identify the information necessary to move cases through the trial court process and to efficiently and effectively manage those cases to adjudication.
  • During Phase One, the identification of information needed for processing cases, managing resources, and monitoring performance will be based purely on “need” and will not be restricted by fiscal or technological constraints.  Rather than simply automating existing business processes, Phase One will endeavor to incorporate improvements to those processes wherever practical.  During Phases Two, Three, and Four, fiscal or technological constraints may be considered when assessing technology and prioritizing implementation.  The prioritization may consider the local needs of judges, quasi-judicial officers, and staff versus the use of the information at the statewide level for committee decision making, policy development, etc.
  • During Phase Two, the technological assessment for this project will focus on determining the most appropriate platform for the solution.  This assessment will consider systems already in use, other commercially available systems, and in-house application development.  However, any system selected or developed as part of the solution will be required to fully integrate and adhere to a standardized set of rules and requirements approved by the Supreme Court.
  • During Phase Three, every effort will be made towards implementing a solution that builds upon existing court and clerk resources, both technological and staffing.  In other words, every effort will be made to minimize the need for new resources or new sources of funding.
  • Overall, the TIMS project will be categorized by the trial court functions as defined above and will not be artificially classified by a case maintenance vs. case management dichotomy.

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Project Steps and Timeframes

Recommendations developed for Phases One, Two, and Three will be incorporated into a final report which will be submitted to the Supreme Court on behalf of all primary committee sponsors by July 1, 2012.  To make the most efficient use of time, applicable recommendations may be incorporated into the report as each phase concludes.  Additionally, a communication strategy will be developed and applied throughout all phases for informing and educating stakeholders about the project.

Project Phases Primary Committee Sponsor Project Steps Timeframe*

One - Identification of Information Needed

TCP&A Determine information needed for processing cases, managing resources, and monitoring performance both locally & statewide.  Examples:  We need to know when a case has been filed, when a court reporter is needed for a proceeding, when a statutory timeframe has been exceeded, etc.

Oct 2010 – Jun 2011

TCP&A Identify when, how, and how often the above information is needed- in the courtroom, in chambers, through periodic reports, etc.
CSWC Determine how the information needed translates into data elements.  Examples: Filing date, case type, court reporter type, etc.
CSWC Determine the standardized definition for the data elements. Example: Filing date equals clerk date stamp on a petition when it is filed.
CSWC Determine type of reports generated both locally and at state level consistent with needs identified by TCP&A.
CSWC Define business rules impacting data collection.

Two - Identification of Technological Approach

FCTC Identify all technical and functional requirements of the technology including security protocols.

Jun 2011 – Mar 2012

FCTC/CSWC Review and analysis of existing judicial interfaces and determination of application development needs.
FCTC Determine how the data elements will be collected. Examples: E-filed document, standardized forms/envelope, scanned document from clerk, data entry by clerk or court staff, link to other agency data, etc.
FCTC/CSWC Determine how the data will be stored and made accessible to judges, court staff, OSCA, etc. once it is captured consistent with needs identified by TCP&A (e.g. searchable databases) including the development of data exchange protocols.
CSWC Determine how to ensure data quality.

Three - Implementation Planning

FCTC Determine all applicable technology requirements and infrastructure.  Examples: Hardware, software, network, etc.

Mar 2012 – Jun 2012

 

 

 

 

 

CSWC/FCTC Determine need to run redundant dual systems (e.g. SRS vs. TIMS).
FCTC Determine implementation communication plan and training needs.
FCTC Structure deployment prioritization and create implementation timetable incorporating principles of change management.
FCTC Perform fiscal analysis for technology and staffing.
TCP&A, CSWC, FCTC, FCC Submit final report to the Supreme Court with recommendations from Phases One-Three.
Four- Implementation FCTC, TCP&A, CSWC, FCC TCBC Action taken to implement and test capability of TIMS. Post July 1, 2012

*Certain phases and project steps may overlap and/or be addressed concurrently.

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Staff Contact

Patty Harris
Senior Court Operations Consultant
Office of the State Courts Administrator
(850) 410-1236
Click to Email

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