Docket Structure : LUSENET : Court Ops Exchange : One Thread

Docket clerks in my division handle civil/criminal docketing; three docket clerks are assigned to each district judge. I am considering terminal digit docketing to balance the distribution of the workload. Some district judges and staff members prefer the team concept so they deal with three docket clerks rather than ten clerks. What are some of the benefits of terminal digit docketing and what other ways can docketing sections be organized to better utilize resources and serve the court?

-- Laura Barsamian (, September 28, 1999


Many years ago here in the Western District of Pennsylvania, we tried the docket clerk/judge concept. We found that it didn't work very well for us because some of our judges worked harder than others, thereby causing more paper flow for docketing. We also found that some of the judges were not happy with the person doing their docketing. We ended up going back to digital docketing. In our Pittsburgh division, we have five docket clerks who all handle two digits for civil, criminal, and miscellaneous cases. We have found that this give a more even distribution of work. Another downside I see to the team concept is that judges could very easily become attached to a docket clerk, causing the clerk to loose control over the docket section.

-- James A. Drach (James, September 28, 1999.

In Los Angeles we used to docket by terminal digit. We instituted docketing by judge groups about 2 years ago. This system seems to be working quite well. The docket clerks who are assigned to docket for specific judges have established very good relationships with the courtroom deputy clerks assigned to the judges. The improvement in communication has improved docketing accuracy and efficiency. We instituted an optical scanning program whereby notice of orders and judgments may be sent to counsel via fax or email transmission. A barcode is generated during docketing which is scanned along with the document and provides the system the mailing and "send" information. It is imperative that the coding on each document be accurate because it tells the docket clerk how to process the document for transmission. The enhanced communication that we have seen since the reorganization of docketing groups by judge has really been an asset to the success of this program.

-- Lisa Yoshino-Major (, September 28, 1999.

At the Bankruptcy Court, District of New Hampshire, we docket by terminal digits. Five years ago we actively discussed splitting into judge teams but our Chief Judge at the time wasn't sure if he liked the idea, then the case managers decided they would prefer to docket for both judges. The case managers felt they would have a better understanding of how each judge worked and also wanted to establish working relationships with both chambers and the courtroom staff. Another point that steered us away from judge teams was the issue of backups when case managers were absent. With a smaller group (3-4 case mangers per judge) the case managers were concerned that work might pile up for one judge team especially if a heavy court day was scheduled, and it would be take longer for anyone from the other team to help out as they would be unfamiliar with the different way the judges operated. Our case managers like the flexibility of working with both judges and the challenge.

-- Kerri Mikolaities (, October 06, 1999.

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