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					                   STATE OF THE CITY DOCKET - CIVIL
                      Circuit Court for Baltimore City

                     CIVIL – NON-DOMESTIC
                Honorable Carol E. Smith, Judge in Charge

                                 Overview

Overall the total number of civil non-domestic new case filings decreased in
calendar year 2003. In the prior year seventeen thousand nine hundred eighty-one
(17,981) cases were instituted. In 2003 the number totaled sixteen thousand
eighty-three (16,083).

Workers’ Compensation and other Administrative Agency Appeals declined
approximately five and nine-tenths percent (5.9%) and five and four-tenths
percent (5.4%), respectively. Complaints for Ejectment reduced by fifteen
percent (15%). District Court De Novo Appeals dropped fifteen and one-half
percent (15.5%). In the Lead Paint category, there were thirty (30) fewer new
case filings, which resulted in a seventeen and six-tenths percent (17.6%)
decrease in that category. Condemnation filings were down twenty-six and nine-
tenths percent (26.9%) and Forfeiture cases dropped thirty-eight and six-tenths
percent (38.6%). New Asbestos case filings decreased from two thousand seven
hundred eighty (2,780) in 2002 to one thousand two hundred thirteen (1,213) in
2003 – a fifty-six percent (56%) difference. Also noteworthy is a significant
reduction in the number of new Habeas Corpus cases in 2003. The majority of
these cases involved requests for Re-review of Bails set and reviewed previously
by the District and Circuit Courts. Mortgage Foreclosure filings dropped six and
seven-tenths percent (6.7%) from four thousand nine hundred sixty-six (4,966) in
2002 to four thousand three hundred sixty-four (4,364) in 2003. Newly initiated
cases in the Trust category declined from five hundred thirty-four (534) in 2002 to
four hundred forty-five (445) in 2003.

In several categories, new case filings increased. There was a twelve percent
(12%) increase in Motor Tort filings, a forty-seven and eight-tenths percent
(47.8%) increase in General Equity matters and most notably, a six hundred
thirty-two percent (632%) increase in Complaints to Foreclose the Right of
Redemption after Tax Sale. In the calendar year 2002, four hundred twenty-four
(424) new cases were filed in this category. Last year the number of new filings
jumped to three thousand one hundred three (3,103) principally because of the
Mayor’s initiative known as Project 5000. In this endeavor the City of Baltimore
is seeking title to that number of properties, which it plans to make available for
renovation and redevelopment. Two thousand one hundred twenty (2,120) such
cases were filed by the City in 2003.
A brief review of the statistics concerning new case filings would also suggest
that the Court has experienced a significant, i.e., two hundred seventy-seven
percent (277%) increase in Medical Malpractice cases in 2003, since the Court
noted thirty-one (31) such cases filed in 2002 versus one hundred seventeen (117)
filed in 2003. This statistic is misleading, however, because prior to 2003
Medical Malpractice cases were included in the Court’s “Other Tort” category.
Since 2003 the Court has endeavored to identify and separately categorize
Medical Malpractice cases. Thus the “Other Tort” category of new filings
declined from eight hundred twenty-one (821) in 2002 to seven hundred
seventeen (717) in 2003. Correspondingly, the Medical Malpractice category
increased from thirty-one (31) in 2002 to one hundred seventeen (117) new cases
initiated in 2003.


                                   Asbestos

Since October 1999 when the Court convened a “working group” of attorneys
from the asbestos bar to tackle the backlog of cases on the “active” docket, the
Court has continued to schedule 150 cases for trial every three weeks. These
cases have been resolved by trial or settlement under the continuing supervision
of Judge Richard T. Rombro. Efforts to eliminate the remaining backlog
continue.

The Court’s E-filing project, which was implemented in June 2003, continues to
provide effective and immediate access to all Asbestos cases. Parties are
immediately notified of all transactions and filings in the cases. Tracking the
approximately three thousand eight hundred (3,800) documents filed per month is
simplified because each document receives a unique identifying number. In 2003,
an average of one hundred twenty (120) new cases were electronically filed per
month.


           Business and Technology Case Management Program

Under the leadership of Judge Albert J. Matricciani, Jr., along with Judges Kaye
Allison and Evelyn Omega Cannon, the Court has implemented a program to
provide for the improved processing of “business and technology” cases. The
new initiatives include the development of an educational program for judges
who are assigned these cases, publishing opinions on the court’s website, and
the development of new case management strategies so that these costly
disputes may be resolved quickly. Baltimore City’s program is consistent with
the issuance of a State Task Force Report recommending the establishment of a
Business and Technology Dispute Management Program and consideration by
the Conference of Circuit Court Judges of the special management of these
cases.




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Requests for special assignment to the Business and Technology track are
reviewed and determined by the program Director. In calendar year 2003,
nineteen (19) cases were accepted into the program. Mediation was ordered in
these cases where appropriate.

This Court is also actively engaged in developing and implementing an E-filing
project for this program.


                       Alternative Dispute Resolution

Since 1991 the Court has scheduled mandatory pre-trial settlement conferences
for all civil non-domestic cases, which are expected to proceed to trial. The
conferences are scheduled daily before either Volunteer Settlement Attorneys or
Judges.

In 1999 a separate and additional mediation program was established for
Business, Commercial, Employment (including Workers’ Compensation),
Environmental, and certain Contract cases.

Alternative Dispute Resolution is also an essential component of the new
Business and Technology Case Management Program.

In September 2003 the Civil Mediation Program was also extended to
Professional Liability cases. Particularized scheduling and mediation orders
were developed for Medical and other Professional Malpractice cases in
consultation with working groups from the plaintiff and defense bars.

From inception to year’s end forty-two (42) Medical Malpractice, two (2) Legal
Malpractice, and two (2) other Professional Malpractice cases were assigned for
mediation.

The total number of cases in all case categories referred to mediation during 2003
was four hundred eighty-four (484). Statistics continue to demonstrate that
mediation is an effective tool. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Workers’
Compensation cases and forty-eight percent (48%) of Contract cases settled at
mediation conferences during calendar year 2003.

With assistance of the Maryland Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office
(MACRO), the Court has annually sponsored a Recognition Ceremony and
Orientation Program for all mediators and volunteer attorneys. Recent keynote
speakers have included Charles B. Craven, a Professor of Law at the Gorge
Washington University and author of several texts on negotiation and settlement
techniques, and The Honorable Howard Chasanow, who has served as a judge
on the District and Circuit Courts for Prince George's County and the Court of
Appeals.



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The Court has also received a generous grant from MACRO to enable the hiring
of a Civil Mediation Coordinator, who will oversee and manage the Court's
Civil Mediation Program.

Judge W. Michel Pierson currently serves as the coordinator for all of the Civil
Alternative Dispute Resolution programs for the Court.




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