In his 14 years on the bench, Judge John Bowman of Florida’s 17th Circuit Court has seen how delays in the judicial process adversely affect children that juvenile dependency courts are intended to help. Judge John Bowman has made it his mission to increase docket efficiency in Florida’s courts and has achieved that through process change and technological innovation.
A change in process to increase docket efficiency means changing docketing methods from a commonly used “cattle call” docket to block time docketing, time-certain docketing, and a combination of block time and time certain-docketing, the National Child Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues website says.
Cattle call dockets are lists of cases that a court clerk assigns to morning or afternoon court sessions. This docketing method can result in long wait times for children, families, social workers, and attorneys before cases can be heard.
Block time docketing decreases wait times by assigning groups of hearings to blocks of time, dedicating each time block to a specific type of hearing, and scheduling participating parties to be present when the block starts. Participating parties need only wait until their hearing within the time block, rather than all morning or all afternoon.
Time-certain docketing increases docket efficiency by using standard hearing times based on averages calculated by the court. This method provides better scheduling accuracy and thus greater efficiency than block time docketing. Combining block time and time-certain docketing makes best use of both methods to allow greater flexibility in scheduling options.
Technological innovation involves using information technology to track multiple cases for the same families across various court divisions. Judge Bowman pushed for the judicial tracking system now in place in Florida's 17th Circuit Court.
Judge John Bowman has accumulated a long record of helping streamline the judicial system to benefit children.