Notes from Judge Martinez Jones Question and Answer Session


January 30, 2017- New Docket System Q and A with Judge Martinez Jones

Synopsis from JMJ:

September: proposed date for changes to be in effect;
Purposes: to address increase in cases filed need for more efficiency in settings both for Court’s time and parties’ time; belief that the caseload on the CPS docket will continue to raise; hope for another Associate Judge to eventually come on and to design the dockets in a way that a new AJ could be plugged in;
Mondays would be contested hearings (from 15 minute settings to C262s), both Judges doing with a dual docket system; may use a central docket system so that rough idea of order would be known based on line number priorities; possible overflow time later in the week for unresolved settings, others would be pushed to later weeks;
Tuesdays: Byrne’s Show Cause hearings in the mornings and other statutory hearings in the afternoon, R&Es would be last;
Wednesdays: JMJ’s Show Cause hearings in the mornings and other statutory hearings in the afternoon, R&Es would be last;
Fridays: COS and PMC dockets; PMC cases would stay with the original Judge; COS would still use the Scheduling Order;
Advantages would be that Monday/Friday holidays easier to schedule around
Core Teams split into Byrne and JMJ Teams- JMJ charged with how to split CAFA; Subcommittee is working on; There will be two appointment wheels; CPS still making sure they can work on this system;

Questions from CAFA:

Other counties have built their dockets not to conflict with Travis, have they been coordinated with? JMJ: not yet, will be brought up with Byrne;
Concern that working in other counties will become impossible with this system.
Request that anyone be able to sub/offer coverage regardless of which appointment wheel they are on. JMJ: wants to be as “hands off” as possible, so subbing may be possible, but sub will need to be truly available, not tied up in another location.
Will each list be published? JMJ doesn’t have a problem, her idea is that everyone will know who is on what list.
Request that we be allowed to be on both lists: may be granted, but the Court will expect that in that case there will not be requests for continuances, etc. due to being on the other docket.
Is there a way to look up which dockets I’m on in any given day? Not right now, but Nicanor and Velva could work on; per Colin Gaffney, signing up for the Court Appointment Management (AMP appointment management system) will allow you to do it now, although times might not be totally accurate;
How will lists be created? Judges want to balance experience on both lists; Will likely be looking for volunteers, etc., but process is not solidified yet.
Concern that a central docket-like system on Mondays will result in a lot of waiting around and additional fees to the county;
How will Spanish-speaking attorneys be divided? Is being discussed among Byrne/JMJ; may give all Spanish cases to JMJ and other interpretation languages be given to Byrne;
Questions re: if short matters will be heard first; discussion re: possible morning dedicated to short matters and afternoons dedicated to longer contested matters;
Preference expressed that attorneys allowed to be on both days and the attorney manage their own docket; Concern that being on one day will decrease the number of appointments given to an attorney;
Submission docket might take off the burden of these short matters that do not require an actual contested hearing; That system is being worked on;
Concern re: will CPS actually be able to schedule this? Sharon Berger is working on it and challenge will be in how to assign cases and balance them in the 8 (will be 9) units;
Current list has about 82 CAFAs, so it would be looking at 40ish/team; May start building by accommodating those with a preference and rounding out with those who express no preference;
Request made for another meeting to be held once the system is finalized to let us know details;
Idea is for decisions made by April; prepare for 3-4 months of “hell”;
Scheduling Order likely to be used in all cases, including TMC;
Special Reviews should maybe be held…
Concern re: how the PMC kids will be able to keep their current attorneys; JMJ states there will be consideration in giving those children preference re: which Court they could be in and consideration would be given to them keeping their current lawyers if wanted;
Discussion re: advantages to removing a docket from Mondays, including no tangle with jury duty and Monday Central Docket business;
Concern that if the Court would meet with kids on a different day than the hearing there could be a change in circumstances and the chance for a meaningful conference would be lost;
Concern about issues with AG Court overlap, and the AG’s lack of flexibility;
Coverage for other cases not on our docket day will likely be allowed, but CAFA expected to “stay in our own lane” regarding substituting and taking over the whole case.

Request for more feedback from JMJ re: technology, meeting coming up with Tim Hutton:

– Request for there to be some permanent link to be able to see dockets rather than having them sent out in several emails per week.