By Kimberly Dowling, Judge Delaware Circuit Court 2—
Muncie, IN—The Indiana Supreme Court has appointed Judge Kimberly Dowling to serve on the state’s Civil Litigation Task Force. Dowling was appointed in January 2021 to the thirteen-member task force. She will also serve as Chair of the Task Force’s Self-Represented Litigant committee.
The Task Force is part of the Indiana Innovation Initiative, started in 2019 “to explore ways to make Indiana’s system of justice more efficient, less expensive, and easier to navigate while continuing to ensure that justice is fairly administered and the rights of all litigants are protected,” says Robert Rath, Chief Innovation Officer for the Office of Judicial Administration. The Initiative began with two parts: The Family Law Task Force and the Technology Working Group. The Family Law Task Force has already submitted its recommendations to the Indiana Supreme Court. The Technology Working Group is in the process of submitting its recommendations.
The Initiative was challenged to review innovations from other jurisdictions, including online dispute resolution, remote video court appearances, use of remote interpreters, and wizard-driven legal forms for non-lawyers to use. The Initiative is considering “outside the box” changes, including changes in technology.
The Civil Litigation Task Force will analyze research on court reform, assess the impact of innovations tried in other states, and identify innovative strategies that will make our courts work better for Hoosiers. A report is due to the Indiana Supreme Court by December 31, 2021.
Judge Dowling is excited about this chance to serve. “I have always enjoyed serving the people of Delaware County and the State of Indiana, and I am honored and humbled that the Indiana Supreme Court has asked me to help in this way. I helped start Indiana’s first Self-Help Legal Center in the Delaware County Courthouse in 2016 to help unrepresented litigants navigate the system and I am excited to continue that work through the Task Force. The challenges created by COVID’s impact on the court system are a powerful reminder that we need to find ways to keep cases moving through the system so litigants receive the justice that they deserve in a timely fashion,” said Dowling.
For more information on the Innovation project see https://www.in.gov/courts/admin/innovate/