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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Ind. Courts - One step forward followed by two steps back for the appellate docket

Ever since the ILB began, I have been calling for a better appellate docket. For instance, in 2005 the ILB wrote:

Certainly it is better than no docket, but it is time for improvements. The docket is maddening to use, and delivers limited information. If you have used it before, you understand. If not, try it out. Type in Morrison. Say you were looking for "Michael Morrison." Pick one of the results. If it turns out to be the wrong one (very limited information is provided), you will have to start over from the beginning.
On Nov. 7, 2011 an ILB post was headed "Appellate Clerk announces an entirely new docket by the end of the year." It quoted an article in Court Times by Clerk Kevin Smith:
Users will be able to search for case dockets using multiple criteria (such as party name, court on appeal, trial court, appellate cause number, lower cause number, case type, litigant name, attorney name, trial court judge, date restrictions, etc.), and then further narrow and/or sort the results by similar criteria. They also will be able to view a docket from the results list, and then “go back” to their results screen again without having to run the query all over again.

Further, interested persons will now be able to use the Clerk’s Online Docket for research purposes in ways they have never been able to before. For example, if someone wanted to see how many appeals were filed from a particular trial court during 2011, she could simply specify the trial court and a date restriction of 2011, and up will come all appeals opened during 2011 from that trial court. She would then be able to look at the dockets in each case, gleaning relevant information from each and then going “back” to the list to look at the next one.

Other examples could include viewing the dockets in all appeals involving mortgage foreclosures, or in all appeals in which a certain attorney was counsel of record, or in all appeals filed with Court of Appeals during a given week. The possibilities are limitless concerning the information that attorneys, members of the media, and members of the public will now be able to gather easily from the Clerk’s Online Docket. We anticipate Phase II will be completed by the end of calendar year 2011.

Also promised:
Phase III will provide attorneys and members of the media and public with the unprecedented ability to receive e-mail notifications when certain activity occurs in an appellate case of their choosing. Through a free online subscription service, users will be able to choose the case or cases for which they wish to receive automatic e-mail notifications when certain docket entries (or any docket entry) is made. Subscriptions can be based on any number of criteria, such as: by appellate court (e.g., All, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, or Tax Court); by appellate cause number; by trial court; by trial court cause number; by county of origin; by specific case type; and by attorney (i.e., cases in which a particular attorney has filed an appearance).
Alas, calendar year 2011 ended with no new docket. So did 2012. But in mid-2013 there was progress. On June 19, 2013, the ILB posted:
Remember the dread appellate online docket? Where you have to carefully type in a case number, filling one box at a time? Where if you get more than one case pulled up, there IS NO BACK KEY, you have to start over to access the docket for each case?

There is hope! There is a new, beta Appellate Case Search. I just put it to the test and it passed. I pasted in the case number of yesterday's legislative fines decision, "49S00-1201-PL-53." No problem.

Then I pasted in the lower case number, from the Marion County court - 49D10-1106-PL-23491. Again no problem, and I pulled up three cases. I could easily look at one, then use the BACK KEY to look at the next - no need to start over!

In addition, you could sort the docket you pulled up by most recent entry either first or last.

And there was/is much more! In fact, using the pull-down menus, the new docket provides everything promised by Clerk Smith in his 2011 article re Phase II.

The Bad News. Now for the "two steps back." Notice that the top of the new docket page now states:

NOTICE: As of November 28, 2014, Tax Court case dockets are available at mycase.in.gov. Case dockets in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will move to mycase.in.gov in early 2015.
So I looked at the Tax Court docket, now moved to mycase.com. I selected "Indiana Tax Court" from the pull-down menu, and "Civil, Family & Probate Case Records."

My first realization: CAPTCHA! I would have to fill in the box for every search.

Second, none of the wealth of search options provided by the current "new" appellate docket.

I typed in the name of one of the more active tax court appeals, "Garwood" and from the two cases numbers displayed, selected "82T10-1208-TA-00046". And there was the docket.

Third, the display is awful. Compare this sample of the Garwood case moved to mycase:

to that of an appellate case still using the current appellate docket display:

Fourth, I can link to the dockets I pull up in the current docket. That means I can include the link in a post, or more importantly, if I am an attorney following a list of cases, I can simply bookmark or otherwise collect a list of the links. I don't have to go through the whole retrieval process each time I want to check on my cases.

With the mycase docket, there is no linking directly to a docket once you have found it. You have to go through the entire process each time, beginning with CAPTCHA. You can't save cases to avoid looking them up over and over again.

So these are some of the reasons this entry is headed "One step forward followed by two steps back for the appellate docket." At least two steps back...

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 3, 2014 09:39 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts