NOTICE TO THE BAR REGARDING NEW CIVIL CASE MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES
Some of you have already received computer generated Case Intervention Orders noting that your case has been pending for a period of 12 months and that the parties are to file with the Prothonotary an Agreed Case Management Order. The parties are warned that if the case is not settled, or a Case Management Order issued by agreement within 7 months, a formal Case Management Order will be issued by the Court sua sponte. With the cooperation of the Prothonotary’s Office, these Orders will be issued monthly on all cases which were filed after June 1, 2018.
The Court will continue to issue Orders requiring Case Management Orders on older cases, but we are migrating to a system which will be more automated. Bucks County’s Court system has always cooperated with trial counsel as far as case management, but the Supreme Court has mandated more oversight by the Court to ensure cases are moving forward at reasonable speed. Practitioners are reminded that any single party has the ability to fast track any and all civil cases by simply utilizing local rules that have been in effect longer than any current practitioner has been litigating cases in Bucks County. Under Local Rule *261 (which was last amended in 1988) any party has the ability to certify the case as ready for trial by simply serving notice on the other party, that they have completed all discovery and the other party is required to complete discovery within 60 days of their notice of intent to certify the case. Historically, once a case is certified as ready for trial, the case is listed on a two week trial term approximately 6-8 weeks following counsel’s certification that the matter is ready for trial. I have personally presided over a jury trial where the controversy occurred in February, a lawsuit was filed a month or two later, and the jury heard the case in November.
Bucks County continues to have cases on the docket which are many years old, and which need to be identified and pushed forward. We have implemented a system which will automatically push all cases forward but still allow the attorneys to control the case management, if they are proactive.
Three new Local Rules went into effect on July 8, 2019, formalizing case management and the responsibility of attorneys and unrepresented parties. Copies of Rules *212.7, *212.8 and *241 are attached to this memo for your review. Counsel should note the requirement of keeping the docket updated with respect to contact information.
Going forward, on all Civil Cases which have remained on the docket for one year, the parties will receive a computer generated Case Intervention Order directing the parties to file, with the Prothonotary, an Agreed Case Management Order. If the parties fail to do that a Case Management Order will be issued by the Court without any guidance from the parties. A copy of that Case Management Order is attached for your review.
The Local Rules and this current system for Case Management was created with the help and input from the Bucks County Bar Association’s Civil Litigation Section. Please note that Local Rule 261 remains in effect and can be used by any party to push a case forward faster than the timelines implemented by the computer generated process. Furthermore, parties can, by cooperation, enter into Case Management Orders which will slow down the litigation.
In summary, we are trying to implement a system which allows proactive attorneys complete control of the litigation, but which will also shepherd the matters forward where the parties are not being proactive.
I want to thank the Bucks County Civil Litigation Section for its input, guidance and support. I also want to thank our Court Administrator Stephen Heckman and Senior Legal Review Officer Stephen Watson for their hard work in putting this together. This system could not occur without the support and assistance of our Prothonotary Judith Reiss. Finally, I would like to publicly thank my Judicial Administrative Assistant, Elizabeth Schecter, who along with Stephen Watson continue to manage and oversee our ongoing efforts to identify and bring to trial cases which have been pending years prior to June 1, 2018.
The Honorable Robert O. Baldi
Administrative Judge of Civil Court