With support from the State Justice Institute, the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of McHenry County, Illinois undertook an ambitious plan to implement all 13 of the CCJ civil justice recommendations.
The Court’s Civil Justice Initiative Project (CJIP) began with a landscape assessment of its civil caseload and identifying strengths and weaknesses in civil case processing. Using a specially appointed civil case manager, the Court developed civil case pathways for each of the civil calendars. Court administration also developed technology tools to improve communication with lawyers and litigants, and enhanced case management reports to better inform judges about the status of the pending caseloads. Although too little time has elapsed since CJIP was fully implemented to gauge its long term impact, initial analyses indicate increased attorney awareness of case movement and deadlines; increased judicial and court staff attention to administrative orders and case reports; increased dialogue and buy-in around active case management; and significantly reduced time to disposition for the pending caseload.
The project also highlights the importance of judicial leadership and effective communication strategies to ensure stakeholder awareness, understanding, and support for reform efforts. More about McHenry County, and the other demonstration project sites selected, can be found on the National Center for State Court’s Civil Justice Initiative page.