Two North Carolina programs aim to ease court congestion

Two very different programs with the same goal of keeping people out of court were announced in North Carolina this week.

Durham County has one of the state’s highest levels of eviction filings, with approximately 900 cases filed each month.  Eviction cases are stressful for tenants and costly for landlords. A new program co-sponsored by Legal Aid of North Carolina, Duke University’s Civil Justice Clinic, and the Durham County Department of Social Services is aiming to reduce eviction filings by guiding affected tenants to legal and financial assistance programs.  The hope is that tenants will be able to remain in their homes, landlords will be paid the rent owed, and the courts will not be clogged with cases that might well be amenable to extrajudicial resolution.

In Buncombe County, local prosecutors have developed their own program to reduce the need for drivers to come to court to challenge or pay speeding tickets.  Drivers caught going 15 miles or less over the speed limit would have the option of paying their fine or even negotiating for reduced points online.  The district attorney behind the program estimated that 2000 people per day crowd the courthouse to appear before a magistrate for speeding fines.

 

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Minnesota adds two judgeships to keep up with case filings

Just yesterday I noted the impact of increased case filings on state courts in Washington.  The State of Minnesota has also recently experienced significant increases in filings, especially in major criminal cases and child protection cases.  In response, the Minnesota legislature has authorized two new judgeships to help alleviate the burden.

The courts helped themselves in this instance by keeping careful statistics on caseload growth, which added meaningful support to their request for new judges.

Technology displaces courthouse couriers

It is no particular surprise that the growth of electronic filing in state and federal courts would lead to a diminution in the need for physical couriers. But this article offers some nice color into how the system has changed, and how remaining courier services stay on their feet (or bikes, as the case may be).

Patent infringement case filings dip to their lowest level since Q3 2011

IP Watchdog has an excellent breakdown.  And this part of the analysis seems spot on:

Past litigation reports from Lex Machina have pointed to the fact that volatility in patent case filings are typically triggered by changes to the patent system, or even just proposed changes. Spikes in patent litigation have closely preceded changes like the abrogation of Form 18 to plead patent infringement in district court as well as the enactment of provisions of the America Invents Act. Given the fact that the debate on patent reform isn’t currently reverberating in Congress the way it has in recent years, it’s possible that the recent downturn in high-volume plaintiff filings is due to calmer waters in the patent system. The next foreseeable change to the U.S. patent system stem from the U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands, so it will be interesting to see if the court’s ruling in that case creates any similar volatility in case filings.