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ECM/ENE Background

In August 2002, the Conference of State Court Administrators issued a white paper on the future of family courts; the paper recognized that the traditional adversarial model for resolving family conflicts was not working very well and advocated for restructuring the court's response to families in crisis.

A national conference followed and representatives from the Hennepin County Family Court and Bar attended; when they returned, they implemented early case management beginning with Initial Case Management Conferences (ICMCs) and then Early Neutral Evaluations (ENEs), an ADR Rule 114 approach that had not typically been used in family court.

On April 23, 2004, then Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz issued Administrative order ADM-04-8002, which authorized several judicial districts to conduct pilot projects on Family Court Early Case Management.

That order had been recommended by an Ad Hoc Work Group on Family Court Early Case Management, which also created Best Practices Guidelines for implementing pilot projects.

On August 17, 2005, the State Court Administrator, Sue Dosal, issued a memorandum clarifying that the "Blatz" order permits individual districts and judges throughout the state to conduct pilot programs.

In the spring of 2006, the Judicial Council adopted early resolution of cases involving children and the family as Strategic Goal 2.B. in the Judicial Branch Strategic Plan.

In 2007, the State Court Administrator's Office (SCAO) received a State Justice Institute (SJI) matching grant to support the ECM/ENE Initiative and expand the use of ECM and ENE throughout the state.  Eight pilots in seven judicial districts: 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th Duluth, 9th Itasca County, and 10th (Anoka and Washington Counties) were launched.  In addition, programs were organized in the 1st, 7th, and 8th judicial districts in 2010. Programs throughout the state are seeing settlement rates approaching 80%, with some cases settling at the ICMC.

ECM/ENE programs are developed by local steering committees. Steering committees are comprised of local judges, attorneys, and mental health practitioners, led by one or more lead judges.  Steering committees establish local procedures, qualifications, rosters, fees, etc.

Click here for more information about ENE programs.

With funding from the SJI matching grant, SCAO has sponsored seven social and financial ENE training programs, training over 400 evaluators statewide.  To view rosters of evaluators who have completed SENE and FENE training, please click here.

Oversight for the ECM/ENE Statewide Initiative is provided by the ECM/ENE Statewide Steering Committee.  Judges Sharon Hall and Sally Tarnowski serve as lead judges of the Statewide Steering Committee.


For general questions about ECM/ENE, contact:
Judy Nord, Staff Attorney, State Court Administration
Click here to send an email via our contact form