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. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  2. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  3. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

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