Chronological Case Summary and Record of Judgments and Orders
The Chronological Case Summary (CCS) and the Record of Judgments and Orders (RJO) have a significant role in trial court administration. These are two of the four records required by Trial Rule 77. Depending on local practice, court or clerk staff may be responsible for the creation and maintenance of parts or all of these records. It is important to keep in mind that two reference guides about the maintenance and creation of the CCS and the RJO are available on the Indiana Courts Website at www.in.gov/judiciary/admin. They are: Trial Rule 77 Quick Guide and the Trial Court Administration Manual for Judges and Clerks, Chapter 6 – Trial Rule 77: Court Records. This article is a short refresher course on some of the important highlights of the two manuals.
Chronological Case Summary
The official requirements for the Chronological Case Summary (CCS) are found in Trial Rule 77 (B). Some important points concerning the Chronological Case Summary are:
- The CCS is an official record of the trial court.
- The CCS is the court’s case management tool, and must accurately record each judicial event as it occurs. A judicial event is an action by a litigant, her attorney, or the court. The trial court must make sure that staff accurately records each judicial event as it occurs and enter each event on the CCS as of the date of such action.
- The Indiana Supreme Court has made it clear, through several rule amendments, that virtually all time limits, such as for filing responses or an appeal, start to run from the time an event is entered on the CCS. Thus, the timely entry of events on CCS is critical.
- It is equally critical that the date of a CCS entry be the date that the entry is made, regardless of the date on the particular document or the date the activity occurred. The text of the CCS should indicate when the document was signed or the activity took place. For example, the court may sign an order on August 1, 2012 but a CCS entry about the order is made on August 5, 2012. Such an entry should read as follows: “August 5, 2012: Order for discovery signed by the judge on August 1, 2012.” We also suggest that if there is a record of when the Order was received in the clerk’s office, the CCS should also indicate that date.
- The requirement for maintaining a sequential record of events in a case means that events must never be backdated.
- A CCS entry must also be made on the date that an order is entered into the Record of Judgments and Orders (RJO) indicating that is the date on which the order may be found in the RJO. (The CCS serves as the index, or locator, of orders, decrees and judgments of the court) If the date the order is entered in the CCS is the same as the date it is entered in the RJO (as it should be), then one entry will suffice as long as it indicates that the order is entered in the RJO on that day. In the foregoing example, if the Order for Discovery is entered in the RJO on August 5, 2012, then there is no need for a second CCS entry. However, if for some reason the Order is entered in the RJO on August 7, then a second CCS must be made.
- A CCS entry should never be amended, corrected or deleted once made. It may be amended only by another corrective CCS entry. This becomes particularly important in the age of instant information. Some courts, with written approval of the Division of State Court Administration, post CCS entries on the Internet, and it is very important the record in a case does not change from one day to the next.
- In the instance of pleadings filed under Trial Rule 5(F) by registered, certified or express mail, return receipt requested or by third-party commercial carrier for delivery to the clerk within three (3) calendar days, the pleadings may be stamped as “received” on the date the mail is received and should be stamped as “filed” as of the post mark date. Because a CCS entry cannot be made until the pleading is received, the CCS entry should be the date it is being made, and the text of the CCS entry should reflect that the pleading is considered filed at an earlier date, and indicate what that date is. For example, if a an Answer was mailed on August 1, received in the Clerk’s office on August 5, and then entered on the CCS on August 7, the CCS entry should read: “August 7, 2012: Defendant files Answer, post marked date August 1, 2012, received on August 5.”
- All documents received in the clerk’s office that pertain to a case must be stamped as “filed” or “received” reflecting the date of receipt. Entries in the CCS are intended to be very brief, while retaining enough detail to be meaningful to someone reading them. The full text of orders and judgments should never be entered into the CCS. The correct mixture of brevity and descriptiveness is left up to each court; however, as a general rule, one should be able to discern from those entries enough detail to correctly understand the activity that has taken place. Therefore, for example, a CCS that reads, “Motion received” or “Motion granted” is not descriptive enough. A better CCS entry would state “August 5, 2012. Court issues order, signed on August 1, 2012, granting defendant’s Motion to Compel Production of Evidence.” However, never copy the full text from the motion or the order into the CCS.
Record of Judgments and Orders
The official requirements for the Record of Judgments and Orders (RJO) are found in Trial Rule 77 (D). Some important points concerning the Record of Judgments and Orders are:
- The RJO is an official record of the trial court.
- Orders should be placed in the RJO on the date the clerk’s office receives (and date stamps) them. The CCS’s reference to the RJO’s entry serves as a link or index to the RJO.
- Not every order should be placed in the RJO. Instead, the RJO should contain final judgments of the court and “designated” orders of the court. This provision in the Rule envisions the trial court making a decision about which orders are important enough to go in the RJO.
- A designated order should be one that reflects some substantive content such as a judicial action or opinion that contributes to the resolution of the case or subject a party to some penalty, such as an Order to Appear. Procedural orders, such as orders granting a continuance, are not normally placed in the RJO.
- The final decision-maker about whether an order should be placed in the RJO is the judge issuing the order, even if the order appears to be one that would not ordinarily be placed in the RJO.
- All orders that conclude a case or orders that restrict the freedom of an individual must be placed in the RJO.
For additional information, contact:
Tracy Beechy-Nufer, Director of Trial Court Management, State Court Administration, at 317-234-5562 or email@example.com
Tom Jones, Records Manager, State Court Administration, at 317-233-3695 or firstname.lastname@example.org