While I know this may not seem like the most exciting topic, I’m thankful to the Marin County Bar Association and President Rob Rosborough for giving me this opportunity to update all of you about the progress we are making in implementing our new Case Management System (CMS). For the Court, this is, indeed, very exciting news.

The Marin County Superior Court has been working hard to implement our new CMS. In 2018, under Presiding Judge Paul Haakenson, the Court entered into a contract with Journal Technologies to create a new, modern, state-of-the-art CMS. Thus began the months-long process necessary to create a plan with Journal for a CMS that would serve Marin County and its litigants as best we could imagine in our court system.

For this project, the Court made the strategic decision to create a CMS Management Team that consists of industry professionals, experienced Court staff from our IT division, the Court Clerk’s Office and in-court clerks, and members of Court leadership. Since its inception, the CMS Management Team has been working full-time with Journal staff to implement our CMS. Our decision to create a CMS Management Team has served us well: We have been able to timely address issues as they have arisen, which has helped greatly in reducing delays. In fact, the success of our CMS Management Team has not gone unnoticed by other courts and several have created their own CMS Management Teams.

Our CMS project began with weeks of briefings, meetings, and education about the products offered and their limitations as well as of our own systems and infrastructure; talks with the County’s Department of Information Services and Technology (IST); and the inevitable negotiations about expected timelines, costs, and ultimately implementation. It also involved additional weeks reviewing, revising, and signing contracts, which committed both Journal and the Court to our CMS. Along the way, the Court has also continued to advise and work with our partners, including the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the Probation Department, County Counsel, other County agencies, and the Marin County Bar Association.

The new CMS that the Court and Journal agreed to implement will create a new Web-based user interface, which will provide 24-hour access to case files from any internet browser. It will streamline existing court processes and hopefully provide more efficient services to the public. The CMS will provide the public with the online ability to file new cases, add documents to cases, make electronic payments, as well as search and view case information. Our hope is that it will make access to our Court easier and better than before.

The implementation process has, unfortunately, been less than perfect, to say the least. After finalizing our contracts, we blissfully moved into 2019 with great expectations about the project’s timing and we made significant progress. However, in early 2020, the Court’s plans and expectations, along with those of the rest of the world, ran into the effects and uncertainty of a global pandemic. We have had to accept the inevitable delays from the supply chain, a change in workforce, and a monumental shift in how we all work, live, and do business. Even without the issues created by the pandemic, we have, without respite, run into numerous issues from the outset. We struggled and continue to struggle with maintaining and supporting our antiquated database system and the difficult task of migrating existing data held in technologically fragile platforms to new Web-based systems. We have gone through the extremely painful process of converting thousands of hardcopy case files to electronic files. We have had to train and re-train staff and judges on interim systems, temporary stopgap measures, and transitional platforms. Yet, even with these setbacks, we have continued to make great progress. We remain optimistic and hope to see our CMS up and running during my term as Presiding Judge.

Barring any additional unforeseen events, we expect to implement our CMS sometime in 2023. In the interim, we have taken a significant step toward our shift to e-filing with the Court’s April launch of eDelivery. eDelivery is a portal which now gives litigants the ability to electronically deliver documents to the Court for filing. eDelivery also provides users with the ability to electronically view the filing status of eDelivered documents, receive notices regarding eDelivered filings, and download conformed copies of documents submitted through eDelivery. Information about eDelivery can be found on the Court’s website.

In closing, I hope all of you take advantage of eDelivery whenever possible as I expect it will make your work as a practitioner more efficient. In the meantime, please be patient and know that improvements with how you interact with the Court are in progress. And those improvements will be worth the wait.

James T. Chou
Presiding Judge
Marin County Superior Court