Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

October, 2004

Maryland Business/Technology
Case Management Program Advances

By the Honorable Steven I. Platt

When the Bar Bulletin announced “Maryland Launches First Business and Technology Court in Nation” in a March 15, 2003 article, it addressed the success of the Circuit Court’s Business and Technology Case Management Track Program (BTCMP), established by new Maryland Rule 16-205, with supplemental language drafted into the existing Civil (Non-Family) Differentiated Case Management Plans in the Circuit Courts of this State.

Now, all designated Maryland BTCMP judges have completed its multi-disciplinary judicial education curriculum, which includes training in law, economics, case and docket management skills. The Judicial Institute of Maryland, which offers this educational program, also covers the use of technology in the management of both cases and dockets involving complex business and technology issues.

Uniform Statistical Data and Performance Standards have been also been developed to accurately measure the efficiency of BTCMP. A progressive “plan” to introduce various technologies into the management track in phases has been postponed due to budgetary restraints over the last three years. The Maryland General Assembly, local legislative bodies and executive officers’ incorporation of existing and emerging technologies into BTCMP’s management makes it more efficient. It allows the Judiciary to embrace the original initiative of the General Assembly’s language in proposed new Rule 16-205, “subject to the availability of fiscal and human resources.”

Notwithstanding the lack of resources available to implement this last component of the Judiciary’s vision, BTCMP has moved forward. Last fall, the Designated Judges and Implementation Committee recommended a BTCMP electronic filing system to the Conference of Circuit Judges, which the Conference endorsed in February 2004. Plans are now underway for pilots in circuit courts that wish to participate, including Baltimore City, Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Baltimore Counties. In the meantime, BTCMP will be given the opportunity to utilize “interim technologies” such as E-Serve to lighten the burden on judges, their staffs and counsel.

Thus, the Governor’s Commission on the Development of Advance Technology Business is strongly recommending funding and support for this remaining area to the Governor and the Maryland General Assembly.

The Opinions of the Designated BTCMP Judges are now posted on the Judiciary’s website as soon as they are issued. The BTCMP site is linked to the websites of the Maryland State Bar Association, local Bar Associations, the Maryland Department of Economic Development, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and many others. In addition, it is posted on Westlaw, which is “promoting … what the Maryland Courts are doing throughout the region,” by publishing Maryland Business/Technology Case Management Program Opinions on the Westlaw Maryland State Cases website. By using keywords, you may search to find Business/Technology Cases Management Program cases in that database covering specific issues.

ADR plays a key role in the management and disposition of cases in BTCMP. The Rules governing the Standards, Education, Training and Compensation of Mediators and other ADR Professionals have been amended. These amendments ensure these professionals are of the highest quality and have the requisite ADR skills, knowledge and understanding of both the subject matter and issues in the case so that ADR is meaningful and a success. The new Rules include the innovative use, where appropriate, of a “Neutral Expert” to provide the ADR professional and/or the parties with technical background information or an opinion on specific issues related to their dispute. In addition, a program to train BTCMP mediators was presented by MICPEL last month.

Today, a more organized, educated and specialized BTCMP benefits Maryland’s Judiciary, and Maryland attorneys are able to take advantage of emerging technology to aid them in their practice. BTCMP shows the practicality and importance of using new resources and ideas, the legal community has been most supportive. Attorneys involved in business and technology litigation find themselves in front of knowledgeable judges and will therefore spend less time having to educate the Judiciary as to the general law surrounding such cases. These attorneys may eventually find themselves in virtual courtrooms, filing pleadings electronically and corresponding with the court through video conferencing and other advanced means. In addition, attorneys and their clients will find that the court is not only willing but able to give these complex and time-consuming cases the attention they deserve.

This progress, which has been developed by consensus within the Judiciary and its co-equal legislative branch of government, is significant as it enables the legislative and judicial branches of government to work together for constructive purposes, including a more efficient Judiciary, despite the inherent tension that exists as a result of our system of checks and balances. In this instance, it was overcome in the interest of working together toward a jointly-held and manageable vision of a more responsive, educated and efficient Judiciary.


The Honorable Steven I. Platt is Chair of the Business/Technology Case Management Program.
 

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: October, 2004

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