Welcome to the Judge's Corner! Get the inside story on efiling and CourtFileNow from the perspective of the bench. Click on the links below to read the articles, and Judge Dywan's biography.
CourtFileNow was developed under the guidance of a group of dedicated judges, clerks, attorneys, and their staffs, who devoted their time to advising our software developers about the operations within their offices and their expectations regarding the e-filing system’s performance. For more than two years this group met regularly with our developers to clarify their requirements for the design, development and functioning of the e-filing system. At each critical step in the process, the developers were pressed to meet the needs of these principal users.
Only when functionality satisfied the requirements of these critical observers, then the developers were given the green light to move forward.
Once the system went live in Lake County, Indiana in February 2010, the judges, clerks, attorneys and their staffs, continued to regularly communicate with the software developers to insure that any and all concerns about system utilities were being promptly addressed, and any suggestions for system enhancements were efficiently documented for review and potential approval for implementation. Many of their suggestions have been incorporated within CourtFileNow since the initial deployment, helping to make CourtFileNow the excellent e-filing solution that it is today.
CourtFileNow was originally developed by Cenifax Management Services, Inc. for use in the Circuit and Superior Courts in Lake County, Indiana. Those courts were using the case management system known as CourtView, and CourtFileNow integrates with that system in Lake County. However, CourtFileNow has been developed to be ECF 4.01 compliant, so it can be implemented to integrate with any modern case management system in use today.
CourtFileNow enables government users to complete most of their day-to-day case management operations within the CourtFileNow system, without having to go to the case management system directly to enter data or make changes. CourtFileNow automatically and efficiently updates the case management database with required information, and clerk and court staffs are freed of their obligation to manually update the case management system.
When electronic filing of court documents is proposed in a jurisdiction, one of the first questions always asked is whether the court ought to make e-filing mandatory. Courts and clerks routinely wonder whether attorneys and other users should have the option to file documents electronically or to continue to file in conventional paper format.
We believe that the unequivocal answer to the question is that mandatory e-filing has so many benefits that any e-filing implementation must require e-filing for virtually all documents.
E-filing eliminates the need for clerks and attorneys to each enter the same case information into their respective systems. E-filing greatly reduces, almost eliminates, the need for the clerk to scan documents to be saved in the document management system. E-filing improves the efficiency and accuracy of work in the offices of all users – attorneys, clerks, and courts.
Equally important, mandatory e-filing eliminates the need to maintain paper file folders, file storage cabinets, and the eventual digitizing or microfilming of paper documents for long-term archives. All users save money using the well-designed e-filing system CourtFileNow.
If users retain the option to file documents in conventional paper format, and remember that we in the legal community can be quite resistant to change, the benefits to clerks and courts quickly disappear. And then our users, including attorneys and others, won’t realize the efficiencies and improvements we could bring to them with mandatory e-filing. The clerks and courts can lead the legal community in the right direction with mandatory e-filing, and one could easily argue that it is their duty to do so.
When working on cases, it can become very important to organize parts of the case file, or documents related to the case file, in a more convenient method than the traditional chronological order found in court records.
CourtFileNow permits users to create and maintain folders within case files for selected documents. These internal folders are not part of the official court record for a file, but are there to enable a user to organize and access documents she might need in managing the file or performing a task in the future. For example, a motion for summary judgment, supporting memoranda, opposing memoranda, and related materials may be filed over a period of months during the life of a case. The various filings and documents might be spread over several pages of docket entries, and it can be time-consuming just to locate them when needed. All those materials can be linked together in the internal file folder for that summary judgment, so that when the judge begins or continues work on the motion all the relevant material is readily accessible. The judge can even store drafts of her order on the motion, or memos to or from law clerks concerning the matter. It’s all safely contained in the internal file folder and isn’t accessible to anyone other than the judge and her designated staff member.
Attorneys enjoy the same opportunity to group documents in their own internal file folders. And as with the judges’ folders, the attorney’s folders are only accessible to the attorney and her designated staff.
Judges and attorneys can create and label as many internal file folders in a case as they determine the situation requires. CourtFileNow provides the utmost in flexibility, access and security to manage users’ work.
Hon. Jeffery J. Dywan acts as a consultant for Cenifax Courts, Inc., regarding efiling matters.
Judge Dywan served as a Judge of the Superior Court in Lake County, Indiana, working in the court’s Civil Division from his appointment to the bench in May 1991 until his retirement in July 2012. He managed and resolved more than 25,000 cases in his 21 years on the bench, and presided over more than 485 civil jury trials. In addition to his regular caseload, he managed all the complex asbestos injury litigation in Lake County, and presided over several complex class-action lawsuits. He instituted the first local protocols for self-represented litigants to file requests for protection orders in Hammond, Indiana, and heard and resolved several thousand self-represented litigants’ protection order cases using those protocols.
He served as Chief Judge of the Superior Court of Lake County, which had 16 judges and 13 magistrates, from 1998 to 2000. During that time he chaired the drafting, approval and implementation of the first Caseload Allocation Plan adopted for the Lake Superior and Circuit Courts; he worked with county commissioners and council and oversaw the expansion of facilities to accommodate four additional judicial officers and courtrooms for the Superior Court; and he chaired the Lake County Law Library Board, implementing cost controls to bring county-wide law-book expenditures within budgetary limits. He was the Court’s representative to the Lake County Data Board from 2004 through 2011. During that time he was instrumental in the development and implementation of online docket and efiling systems in Lake County, Indiana; and he obtained a state grant of $277,000.00 to fund the expansion of the county’s court case management system to the ten city and town courts in Lake County.
Judge Dywan also served the public in additional capacities. The Indiana Supreme Court appointed and retained Judge Dywan as a member of its Judicial Technology and Automation Committee from the Committee’s inception in 1999 until his retirement in 2012. He was also a member of the Indiana Supreme Court’s Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure (2009-2012); he was the 1st District representative on the Board of Directors of the Indiana Judicial Conference (2000 - 2004 and 2005 - 2007); he is a former member (1999-2005) and chairman (2003-2005) of the Indiana Judges Association Civil Instructions Committee; and he was a member of the Supreme Court’s Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee (1993-1999).
Judge Dywan is the author of An Evaluation of the Effect of Court-Ordered Mediation and Proactive Case Management on the Pace of Civil Tort Litigation in Lake County, Indiana (2003 J.Disp.Resol. 239); he was a contributing author to Indiana Pattern Jury Instructions-Civil (Second Edition, Revised, Ind. Judges Assoc. 2001); and he was a contributing author to Indiana Evidence Workshop Manual, Professional Education Systems Institute, (1993 - 2006). Judge Dywan has been a frequent speaker a local and state Continuing Legal Education programs for attorneys and judges, and conducted annual programs for legal assistants in Lake County for over 20 years while he served on the bench.
Judge Dywan is a member of the Lake County and Indiana State bar associations. The Litigation Section of the Indiana State Bar Association presented him with its Civility Award in 2006. In 1999, The Criminal Justice Club of Calumet College presented him with an Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Criminal Justice. The Legal Secretaries Association of Lake County, Indiana presented him with several plaques and awards in recognition of his annual education programs.
Before taking the bench, Judge Dywan worked in the private practice of law in Lake County, Indiana for 17 years. During that time he also worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney, a public defender, and taught legal courses at Calumet College and Indiana Vocational Technical College. Since his retirement from the bench, Judge Dywan also practices as a registered Civil Mediator at McDevitt Mediation Center in Merrillville, IN.
Judge Dywan is a graduate of Purdue University (BSIE, 1971), Valparaiso University (JD, 1974) and The University of Nevada-Reno (MJS, 2003).
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