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Early Case Management

 Early Case Management (ECM) Program

In July, 2009, the Second Judicial District implemented Early Case Management.

The fair and efficient administration of justice requires that all cases in family court receive timely attention. This requires the judicial system to handle cases expeditiously and with consistency, fairness and sound decisions.  The court manages the process and disposition of the cases before it. The Early Case Management (ECM) approach that was implemented in July, 2009, uses aggressive case management timing by establishing judicial intervention on cases within three to four weeks of filing. The initial meeting with the judicial officer is called an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC). The judicial officer's involvement soon after the filing encourages the parties and their attorneys (if represented) to focus on resolving and narrowing the contested issues that are barriers to settlement.

Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC)

The intervention of the judicial officer early in the process is a key component to engaging the parties in communication that will help them reach a resolution.

            The purpose of the ICMC is to:

            Establish the Court's control of the progress of the case;
            Provide early intervention by the Court;
            Offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes;
            Establish discovery limitations and deadlines;
            Discuss settlement progress and opportunities for settlement; and,
            Assign a date for the future conferences, if needed.

Within 30 days of initial filing the court schedules the parties for what is called an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC). Parties will be sent a ICMC Data Sheet. This form needs to be filled out and returned to the court prior to the scheduled date. This hearing is mandatory. If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney needs to be present. At the ICMC, all involved parties will meet with the judicial officer. Here, the judicial officer will talk with you about what the issues and concerns impeding or stopping you from coming to an agreement. The judicial officer will discuss with you your various options which will allow your case to continue through the court process with little or no delay. 

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) strives to move families through court efficiently and inexpensively by working with them early on to reach agreements that will foster the best interests of their families.  ENE helps parties focus on the critical issues they face in a confidential, non-confrontational, and settlement-oriented alternative dispute resolution program.

In ENE, parties and their attorneys attend an ENE session with experienced evaluator(s). Each side presents its view. The evaluator(s) discuss the case alone and then share their perspective on the merits of each position.   Evaluator(s) identify the key issues and predict how the case is most likely to conclude. The parties are always able to confer with their attorneys and discuss settlement. Sometimes additional meetings are scheduled.  

Issues related to custody or parenting time take part in Social ENE.  In those cases a two person male/female team of evaluators will work on the case.  SENE Provider List  If the issues relate to financial issues, then a Financial ENE, with a single evaluator, is used.  FENE Provider List In either type of ENE, evaluators are highly experienced professionals who have also been formally trained to help resolve cases in the ENE program.

Over half of the cases settle during the first session and over three-fourths reach at least some agreement. Absent full resolution, the team advises the assigned judge about areas of agreement, additional needed services and how to focus future assistance on the most relevant issues.

The parties pay for the costs of ENE according to a Financial or Social Sliding Fee Schedule.  Most who participate in ENE will save a considerable amount of time and money versus contentious litigation in a traditional court setting.  ENE is, on average, fully concluded within 90 days.  A full determination in a traditional court setting can easily take more than a full year's time.

ENE Forms

Listed below are forms that are designed to assist you in becoming more familiar with ECM in Ramsey County. The Initial Case Conference Data Sheet is a form that must be completed, submitted to the court and served at least three (3) business days before your scheduled Initial Case Management Conference.  This information is for use at the ICMC only and is not evidence for purposes of a trial.  The other forms contain more detailed information about ENE and its' costs.

Attorneys:  ICMC data sheets should be submitted to the assigned judicial officer by email to the email address boxes that have been set up for each judicial unit.  This is the ONLY exception to the mandate that pleadings be filed electronically.  eFiling Business Process

Links:

Supreme Court Order and Recommended Guidelines

Initial Case Conference Data Sheet - PDF

Initial Case Conference Data Sheet - Word

FENE Program Description

FENE Fee Schedule

FENE Provider List

SENE Fee Schedule  

SENE Provider List