ILNews

Appellate office clears backlog

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A new shift in the Indiana Appellate Clerk's Office has helped eliminate a backlog that created delays for some files getting to the appropriate court and appearing on the docket.

Dealing with a backlog that's been evident for months, Appellate Clerk Kevin Smith started making changes late last year after becoming concerned with the ability to keep up with growing caseloads and intake workloads. The office implemented staff and organizational changes in January that involved hiring new employees, shuffling existing staff, and creating an extra morning shift to process paperwork more quickly.

An office manager spot created in January to supervise case managers meshed with a new 5 to 8 a.m. shift that started Feb. 4, Smith said, and his office was able to "virtually eliminate" the backlog of unprocessed filings that before could sit for days or even weeks.

After his office was able to completely purge the backlog this week, Smith says no filing in his office is more than 24 hours old from its arrival date and filings are being docketed within a day. Most that arrive by mail in the morning are processed by the end of the day, and those arriving later are processed by the end of the next day, he said.

While this probably isn't the first time an appellate clerk has been able to process filings within a day, Smith noted that he is the first in recent memory to put a formal policy into place to make this a top priority.

For attorneys, Smith said this backlog elimination means less chance exists for documents to get misplaced or overlooked, as has happened in the past.

Unforeseen issues inevitably arise that may cause some filings to be processed outside the 24-hour goal, Smith admits. Those include unexpected staff absences or departures, holiday seasons, or times when the office is "slammed" with a more than typical amount of filings.

"Even the inevitable occasional 'spikes' should not prevent time-sensitive materials from getting processed immediately, given our new triage system," Smith wrote in an e-mail to Indiana Lawyer.

Smith encourages attorneys to contact his office directly if they have any concerns or do not see a mailed submission posted on the online docket within five business days. He also encourages appellate attorneys to give his office a heads-up about a time-sensitive motion or filing they plan to make, as well as not waiting until the last minute. The Appellate Clerk's Office can be reached directly by calling (317) 232-1930, or by sending an e-mail via the Indiana Judiciary Web site.
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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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