SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 14
AS AMENDED BY SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1 AND HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1
ESTABLISHING A FUTURES COMMISSION, TO BE KNOWN AS "COMMISSION ON DELAWARE COURTS 2000," TO OPERATE AS A TASK FORCE ON COURT STRUCTURES AND LONG—RANGE PLANNING FOR COURT SYSTEMS IN THE STATE OF DELAWARE.
WHEREAS, the Delaware judiciary is held in the highest regard by corporate decisionmakers, lawyers, and judges around the world; and
WHEREAS, Delaware's national preeminence has been driven by over 70 years of scholarly and even—handed decisions, the predictability of the law and the skill and honesty of our judges; and
WHEREAS, the citizens of the State of Delaware have benefited from the extraordinary competence, hard work, and preeminence of the Delaware judiciary; and
WHEREAS, it is important that Delaware be preeminent not only in the quality of its judiciary and judicial decisions, but also in the structure of its judicial system; and
WHEREAS, the structure of the judicial system in Delaware needs attention, possible revision, new resources, and coordinated planning to achieve excellence as we approach the twenty—first century; and
WHEREAS, the mission of the judiciary is to provide fair, prompt, competent, and inexpensive resolutions of disputes; and
WHEREAS, it is necessary and desirable to examine areas where statutory, constitutional, and administrative improvements in the judicial system should be considered (consistent with the separation of powers principles of the Delaware Constitution, particularly Article IV, Section 13), in order that the State of Delaware will have a model, state—of—the—art judicial system appropriate for the twenty—first century; and
WHEREAS, some of the problem areas have been the subject of separate recent excellent studies such as the Court Consolidation Commission (1986), the Superior Court Study Committee (1991), and the Court of Common Pleas Study Committee (1992); and
WHEREAS, the Delaware Courts Planning Committee, a committee appointed by the Chief Justice, operates very effectively on an ongoing- basis as a short—term, medium—term and long—term study and advisory committee for the judiciary; and
WHEREAS, 33 states have conducted some form of studies of the future of their courts, and 21 states have used the services- of futures commissions or committees in their forward planning and consideration of change; and
WHEREAS, It is not necessary or desirable to replicate the scope or methodology of the work of many of such futures studies, but it is necessary and desirable for Delaware to have a very specific, focused, and comprehensive study of the judicial system of the State of Delaware; and
WHEREAS, in addition to the various studies and proposals dealing with separate parts of the system, an integrated and comprehensive analysis of the interconnected and interdependent aspects of the various Delaware courts is needed urgently; and
WHEREAS, it is desirable to establish a commission consisting of members of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government and the public to make such a comprehensive study and recommendations.
the Governor, that a commission be created, known as Commission on Delaware Courts 2000 (the "Commission"), to operate as a task force to recommend such constitutional or statutory changes in the structure of the judicial branch of government as the Commission shall deem appropriate.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the subjects to be considered comprehensively by the Commission shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following:
1. The future position of the Court of Common Pleas within the
judicial structure of the State of Delaware, including an analysis of its jurisdiction and the interrelationship between the exercise of its
Jurisdiction and that of the Superior Court and the Justice of the Peace Courts.
2. Whether or not the Wilmington Municipal Court should operate as
part of a statewide court system or whether other changes should be made in the scope of its jurisdiction and its organizational structure.
3. Whether there should be changes in the jurisdiction, method of
appointment, and operation of the Alderman Courts of various cities, towns, and municipalities within the State of Delaware, including the issue of whether Or not the functions of such courts should be brought under the statewide judicial system as part of the Justice of the Peace Courts, or in some cases as a municipal court or otherwise.
4. The desirability of a unified general trial court with divisions
such as a Criminal Division, Civil Division, Family Court Division, Common Pleas Division, and Appellate Division, including the question of whether or not some hybrid system of partial unification is appropriate for Delaware.
1. Whether the Family Court and/or the Court of Common Pleas should be constitutional courts.
1. The Jurisdiction and functioning of the Justice of the Peace Courts as part of the overall Judicial system, including appeals from the decisions of the Justice of the Peace Courts.
1. A focus on the impact of "minor offenses," the current jury system, and mandatory minimum sentencing on the efficient functioning of the courts and recommendations, if any, for change.
1. A permanent solution to the security problems in Delaware courts, Including consideration of the feasibility of a new and effective system deploying personnel along the lines of the U.S. Marshal Service model.
2. A permanent solution to space problems (e.g., the Georgetown
Courthouse situation and the Wilmington Justice Center), and creative methods for funding such capital improvements.
1. An ongoing, fair, and reliable compensation system for judges so as to attract and retain persons of the highest levels of skill, honesty, judicial temperament, and work ethic.
2. The desirability of revisions in the budgetary and personnel
systems consistent with the flexibility of the Chief Justice in the management of the Judicial branch; and
1. The desirability of a senior judge system and recommendations as to the adoption of the second leg of a pending constitutional revision and implementing legislation.
2. Consideration of the feasibility of establishing goals involving
enhanced non-judicial staffing (e.g., commissioners, staff attorneys, law clerks, etc.), advanced technology, other court resources, and
court-annexed alternate dispute resolution mechanisms.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall be composed of 16 members to be named or appointed as follows:
1. 0. Francis Biondi, Esquire, and Rodman Hard, Jr., Esquire, shall be the co-chairs of the Commission;
2. The Governor may appoint four members, not more than two of whom shall be of the same political party, at least one of whom shall be a resident in Kent County or Sussex County, and at least one of whom shall be a member of the general public who is not a member of the legal profession or the judiciary and who does not hold any public office of the State of Delaware;
3. The Chief Justice may appoint four members, not more than two of whom shall be of the same political party, at least one of whom shall be resident in Kent County or Sussex County, and at least one of whom shall be a member of the general public who is not a member of the legal profession or the judiciary and who does not hold any public office of the State of Delaware.
4. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate may appoint two members of the Senate, one from each caucus;
5. The Speaker of the House of Representatives may appoint two members of the House of Representatives, one from each caucus;
6. The Attorney General or his designee shall be a member; and
7. The Public Defender or his designee shall be a member.
1. The foregoing appointments shall be made within 15 days of the
effective date of this resolution.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall be authorized, with the consent of the Chief Justice, to work with the Administrative Office of the Courts, the administrators of the various courts, and the Delaware Courts Planning Committee as resources in the work of the Commission.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall be authorized to seek special appropriations from the General Assembly for the furtherance of the work of the Commission at such time and in such amounts as the Commission shall deem appropriate.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall operate by majority vote with the opportunity for a minority report, if necessary, on any of the findings or recommendations of the Commission.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall organize and conduct its first meeting no later than 30 days from the effective date of this joint resolution.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall issue its preliminary report to the Governor, the Chief Justice, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, not later than February 21, 1994, and shall issue its final report to such officials not later than May 16, 1994.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the preliminary report and the final report of the Commission shall include recommendations for- statutory or constitutional change in the structure of the judicial system and recommendations to the Chief Justice for administrative and supervisory improvements consistent with Article IV, §13.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission shall remain in existence for the duration of the 137th General Assembly to monitor the work and recommendations of the Commission and to make such supplemental reports as the Commission deems appropriate.
Approved July 17, 1993.