Caseflow Management

Resource Guide

Caseflow management is the coordination of court processes and resources so that court cases progress in a timely fashion from filing to disposition. Judges and administrations can enhance justice when a court supervises case progress from the time of filing, sets meaningful events and deadlines throughout the life of a case, and provides credible trial dates. Proven practices in caseflow management include case-disposition time standards, early court intervention and continuous court control of case progress, use of differentiated case management, meaningful pretrial events and schedules, limiting of continuances, effecting calendaring and docketing practices, use of information systems to monitor age and status of cases, and control of post-disposition case events.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Links

Richard Schauffler Trends: Close Up - The Rise and Fall of State Court Caseloads. (2017).

Since the Great Recession in 2008, caseloads in the state courts have been declining rapidly—16 percent between 2006 and 2015, a loss of about 16 million cases. Across all case categories—civil, criminal, juvenile, domestic relations, traffic—and across all states, this pattern is pervasive and persistent. While there is some variation due to demographics or policy and budget changes within states, the overall trend is clear. What is not known is why this is happening.

CourtMD. (2014).

The initial treatments in NCSC's CourtMD online tool support effective caseflow management by pointing court managers who answer questions about key characteristics of their courts toward custom solutions based on those answers.

Steelman, David and John Goerdt and James McMillan Caseflow Management: The Heart of Court Management in the New Millennium.

Review of methods of caseflow management and their application. Also describes elements of successful caseflow management programs and their implementation.

National Center for State Courts Rethinking Felony Caseflow Management to Create a Culture of High Court Performance. (2013). Sustained success in felony caseflow management calls for judicial leaders, court managers, and their criminal justice partners to (a) focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the court culture in their respective communities, and then (b) use the ideas of “high court performance” as a framework for understanding what must be done in order to manage felony cases in a way that promotes prompt and affordable justice.
Raaen, Nial Caseflow Management Maturity Matrix. (2015). The Caseflow Management Maturity Matrix is a high level framework that describes the critical hallmarks of caseflow management and is a self - assessment instrument to determine the level of adoption and institutionalization of caseflow management principles and practices by a court. The dimensions of the Matrix include “business layers” and “levels of development, ” or maturity.
Case Processing Time Standards.

This database compiles state-by-state information about Case Processing Time Standards (CPTS) and how states monitor them.

Caseflow & Workflow Management.

Court Consulting Services provides caseflow management and delay reduction services to general, limited appellate and special jurisdiction (such as juvenile, family, probate, drug, and enforcement) courts.


CourTools offers a way to evaluate performance by using Trial Court Performance Measures: Number 2: Clearance Rates; Number 3: Time to Disposition; Number 4: Age of Active Pending Caseload; Number 5: Trial Date Certainty.


Fundamental Issues of Caseflow Management.

This is an eLearning course offered by the Institute for Court Management. In this course, participants will assess the effectiveness of their court's caseflow management system and learn how to develop a system that ensures timely and just disposition of all cases in collaboration with stakeholders. Participants will also learn the fundamentals of caseflow management, strategies to create or enhance their court's caseflow management program, and how to adopt an effective differentiated case management plan. This course is ongoing.

Steelman, David C. and Alicia K. Davis. Probate DCM to Protect Vulnerable Adults. (2012). Future Trends in State Courts.

Some probate courts are now considering time standards and new case management strategies and tools to handle expanding caseloads, including differentiated case management (DCM) both before and after fiduciary appointment.

Hall, Daniel J. and Lee Suskin. Reengineering Lessons from the Field. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. Court leaders typically recognize the need for developing new processes and work methods. However, the current budget crisis has forced court leaders to recognize that they must significantly redesign court services in an era of constrained resources.
Matthias, John T. User Requirements for a New Generation of Case Management System. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. As courts update their case management system technology, selecting and implementing a highly configurable case management system allows a court to contemplate managing continuous change in the business environment. Selecting a system depends on judging its configurability capabilities, and developing good user requirements depends on capturing process-oriented requirements to take advantage of those capabilities.


Model Time Standards for State Trial Courts. (2011). National Center for State Courts.

The Model Standards was approved in August 2011 by the Conference of State Court Administrators, Conference of Chief Justices, American Bar Association House of Delegates and the National Association for Court Management. They are the comprehensive set of time standards that cover all types of cases.


Steelman, David. Caseflow Management. (2008). Future Trends in State Courts.

Traces the development of caseflow management since the 1970s, analyzes current issues and innovations, and looks toward the future.

Caseflow Management Guides

Core Competency Curriculum Guidelines: Caseflow Management. (2012). National Association of Court Management. The NACM Core Competency Curriculum Guidelines provide a comprehensive statement of the caseflow management knowledge and skills necessary for court leaders. 
Court and Caseflow Management, South Africa Guidelines. (2011). The Justice Forum in South Africa is an organization that provides information online and has several reports/publications describing caseflow management in the South African court system.
California State Auditor Report 2010. (February 2011). California Administrative Office of the Court.

This report discusses what the California Administrative Office of the Court did wrong and why the Statewide Case Management Project faces significant challenges due to poor project management.

Steelman, David. Model Continuance Policy. (2009).

This document provides a model continuance policy for use by courts to achieve more effective caseflow management.

Steelman, David. Reducing Court Work Volume through Caseflow Management. (2009).

This brief article describes how caseflow management can successfully address issues of case volume and workload in the courts, and provides examples.

Steelman, David. Improving Caseflow Management: A Brief Guide. (February 2008).

This report outlines many ways in which courts can improve caseflow management including trial management, dispositions, timing, leadership and others.

Caseflow Management Guide. (2004). Lansing, MI: State Court Administrative Office A guide for judges and caseflow management practitioners about caseflow management, court supervision of case progress, judicial support and leadership, and management information. 
Mahoney, Barry and Holly C. Bakke. How to Conduct a Caseflow Management Review: A Guide for Practitioners. (1994). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts A "how-to" guide to help conduct caseflow management review by analyzing caseflow management systems of several urban courts.
Goerdt, John, with Chris Lomvardias and Geoff Gallas. Reexamining the Pace of Litigation in 39 Urban Courts. (1991).

This seminal report presents analysis of the pace of litigation and its correlates based on 1987 felony and civil case data from 39 urban trial courts.

Hewitt, William, Geoff Gallas, and Barry Mahoney. Courts that Succeed: Six Profiles. (1990). 211 pages.

This report shows how demonstration courts evaluate symptoms of delay in the context of many factors, as well as explaining that delay is both a problem and a sympton of other underlying problems facing courts.

Mahoney, Barry et al. Changing Times in Trial Courts. (1988). 246 pages.

This report represents a three-year study of case-processing times in 18 general jurisdiction trial courts in several urban areas in the U.S. to provide a picture of the pace of criminal and civil litigation. Reports' conclusion is that delay is not inevitable and there are ways for successful caseflow management.

Civil Cases

Rauma, David. The Civil Justice Reform Act Expense and Delay Reduction Plans: A Sourcebook. (1995). Washington, DC: Federal Judicial Center. A reference volume used to aid those prosecuting civil cases.  Using the Civil Justice Reform Act as a template, this document examines various statistics about civil justice and uses them to postulate a number of trends and patterns.
Mahoney, Barry et al. Civil Caseflow Management Improvement in the Superior Court, Suffolk County (Boston, MA), 1987-1991. (1992). Denver: National Center for State Courts, Institute for Court Management. An NCSC study of comparative case management speed and effectiveness in a large environment.  The study investigates the court system of Boston, Massachusetts in order to discover what works and how case management systems can succeed in other urban environments.
Goerdt, John. Divorce Courts: Case Management, Case Chracteristics, and the Pace of Litigation in 16 Urban Jurisdictions. (1992). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. Multi-jurisdictional study of case-management procedures and case processing times.
Mahoney, Barry and Antoinette Bonacci-Miller. Improving Civil Caseflow Management in Urban Trial Courts. (1992). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. Project that aims to produce significant improvements in caseflow management practices in participating courts and helping reduce case processing times to decrease backlogs in the courts.
Steelman, David. C. Improving Civil Commitment in King County, Washington: Volume One . (2012).

Improving the Current Flow of Adult Involuntary Treatment Act Cases

Criminal Cases

National Center for State Courts Jefferson Parish Caseflow Management: Final Report. (2013).
Matthias, John T., et. al. Lafourche Parish Criminal Caseflow Improvement: Final Report. (2011). National Center for State Courts, Denver, CO.

The study is directed at suggesting ways to institute additional efficiencies and improvements in light of continued shrinking resources while simultaneously not appreciably diminishing either the access to or the quality of justice in the Judicial District Court.

Pitts, Wayne J. Dealing with Outstanding Warrants for Deceased Individuals: A Research Brief. (2009). Justice System Journal (Vol. 30, No. 2).

This study ordered by a judge that pushed for a more efficient warrant database. Specifically, the author focused on ridding the database of deceased individuals in order to make it more user-friendly. The author includes how to replicate his research for other counties in this article.

Coolsen, James Peter. Case Management Innovation in a Large, Urban Trial Court: The Critical Importance of Legal Stakeholder Attitudes. (2009). Justice System Journal (Vol. 30, No. 1).

This article, based on research conducted in the Circuit Court of Cook County (Chicago) from June 2006 through March 2007, addresses the challenge of a large, urban felony court in reducing delay through the introduction of a Differentiated Case Management (DCM) system.

Steelman, David, Felony Case Management in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. (November 2009).

This report was prepared under a February 2009 agreement between the National Center for State Courts and the Bernalillo County for a study of felony case processing in the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico.

Griller, Gordon M., Hon. Joseph P. Farina, and Daniel J. Hall. Analysis of the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Magistrate Criminal Calendar: Fourth Judicial District of Ada County Idaho (Greater Boise). (May 2009). National Center for State Courts, Denver, CO.

This report addresses challenges facing court operations and concerns voiced by judges and other stakeholders regarding case management practices. Thirteen recommendations are made to improve the court's calendar system and case management practices.

Walsh, Wendy Case-Resolution Time for Child Sexual Abuse Cases. (2008). Future Trends in State Courts.

Because of the detrimental impact on children, it is important that litigation be concluded as rapidly as possible, consistent with due process. Depsite the development of court performance measures for timeliness, the lack of national data suggests that specific attention to the charging and court-resolution time of child sexual abuse cases has not been prioritized.

Cauthen, James N. G. and Barry Latzer. Why So Long? Explaining Processing Time in Capital Appeals. (2008). Justice System Journal (Vol. 29, No. 3).

This article presents the findings of an investigation of the time expended by fourteen state supreme courts to resolve direct appeals of capital convictions and sentences.

Steelman, David. Elements of a Successful Plea Cut-Off Policy for Criminal Cases. (September 2008).

This document provides a model plea cut-off policy for use by courts to achieve more effective caseflow management.

Cuyahoga County, Ohio Felony Case Processing Study Phase I: Final Report and Recommendations. (2005). The Justice Management Institute. This report identifies recommendations to improve felony case processing and discusses the recommendations' impact on staff and computer equipment.
Steelman, David C. et al. Caseflow Management and Judge Assignments for Criminal Cases in Minnesota`s Fourth District Court (Hennepin County): Final Report. (October 1999). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. This report addresses the caseflow management needs of the Hennepin County court system.  See Appendix C (page 91) for a detailed discussion on differentiated case management.
Ostrom, Brian. Efficiency, Timeliness, and Quality: A New Perspective from Nine State Criminal Trial Courts. (October 1999). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. Timeliness and the quality of justice are not mutually exclusive either in theory or in fact. Expeditious criminal case resolution is found to be associated with court systems in which the conditions also promote effective advocacy. Because effective advocacy underlies due process and equal protection of the law, it is an integral aspect of the broader concept of quality case processing. The evidence from this study suggests that well-performing courts should be expected to excel in terms of both timeliness and quality.
Steelman, David C. Non-discretionary Assignment, Transfer, and Reassignment of Felony and Misdemeanor Cases . (1995). Denver, CO: National Center for State Courts, Court Services Division. Municipal Court of Marion County, Indiana: Final Report.  Pursuant to a December, 1994, order of the Indiana Supreme Court, all Indiana trial courts were required to adopt a proposed local rule providing for the non-discretionary assignment of all felony and misdemeanor cases filed. In addition, the trial courts were required to provide for the continued assignment of a judge in the event of dismissal and for the reassignment of a case in the event a change of judge is granted under the newly amended Indiana Criminal Rules 12 and 13.  The National Center for State Courts assisted the Municipal Court of Marion County with the development of proposed local rules that comply with the Supreme Court order and with the planning for the implementation of the new rules.
Steelman, David C., and Jeffrey M. Arnold. Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Criminal Division Time Standards Improvement Plan. (1993). Chicago: Cook County Circuit Court. The purpose of the improvement plan is to permit the Criminal Division judges to introduce ways to achieve further expedition in their handling of felony cases. In order for the presiding judge and his colleagues in the Criminal Division to achieve such improvements, one important step is to employ criteria for what constitutes "improvement." Time standards for case processing serve this purpose. 
Mahoney, Barry et al. Criminal Caseflow Improvement in the Hudson County Superior Court (Jersey City, NJ),. (1992). Denver, CO: National Center for State Courts, Institute for Court Management. This report is intended to provide an overview of the court’s delay reduction efforts during the 1989-1992 period. It provides an overview of the court’s situation as of May 1989, describes the planning process undertaken in the 1989-90 period, and discusses the impacts of the court’s caseflow management improvement efforts. The concluding section presents some recommendations for the future.
A Manual for Workshops on Processing Felony Dispositions in Limited Jurisdiction Courts. (1992). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. Improving the Quality of Justice While Reducing Delay.  An NCSC project which seeks to aid those searching for innovative means of more effectively managing cases.  Each chapter proceeds by discussing case management in a different environment, from small claims, to civil, to large felony cases.
Mahoney, Barry, and Todd Clear. Criminal Caseflow Management in the Essex County Superior Court (Newport, NJ). (1990). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. This report provides an overview of developments with respect to criminal caseflow management in the Essex County Superior Court, and sets forth recommendations for action by the court's leadership and by state-level leaders.

Differentiated Case Management

Differentiated Case Management: Fact Sheet. (November 1995). Washington, DC, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Defines the key features and benefits of the DCM model. Every case that goes to court imposes a unique set of demands on court resources. The traditional first-in / first-out, one-track-fits-all approach to case management is no longer either feasible or desirable.
Differentiated Case Management: Implementation Manual. (1993). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Assistance. A book which goes into greater detail on the management and implementation of DCM.  It includes frequently asked questions about the system, cases in which the system was implemented, and basic tactics to assure the greatest success with DCM.
Differentiated Case Management: Program Brief. (1993). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Assistance. This pamphlet explains the concept of Differentiated Case Management (or DCM), describes the criteria needed for DCM, and the process by which a locality can implement the program.
Henderson, Thomas, Janice Munsterman, and Robert Tobin. Differentiated Case Management. (1990). Washington Project Office.

This seminal report examines criminal and civil cases from six demonstration sites (superior court, Camden County, NJ; superior court, Pierce County, WA; district court, Ramsey County, Minnesota; Detroit Recorder's Court; and Berrien County, Michigan).

Drug Cases

Cooper, Caroline S. Expedited Drug Case Management. (1994). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. An examination of several approaches taken by judges to speed up the numerous drug cases that clutter their judicial systems.  Possible benefits are examined, followed by descriptions of how each attempted study panned out.

Family Cases

Flango, Carol. How are Courts Coordinating Family Cases?. (September 1999). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. Families come to court for many reasons, and some families return to court frequently. For these families, a coordinated approach to the multiplicity of cases involving various family members and an integrated human service delivery system seems to hold the most promise of moving the family toward self-sufficiency. The basic premise is that an integrated approach not only will promote a better quality of court decision making by providing the judges and judicial hearing officers with accurate and complete information about the family, but also will make the best use of the limited resources the community has to strengthen families.
Aikman, Alexander B. Case Management and Caseflow Study of the Jefferson County (KY) Circuit, District, and Family Courts: Final Report. (May 1995). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. This report reviews case management in the courts in Jefferson County, Kentucky.  See also Recommendation 9 (page 91), which indicates that "Circuit court judges should implement a differentiated case management program for newly filed cases." 
Rubin, Ted H. and Victor Eugene Flango Court Coordination of Family Cases. (1992). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. Research examines the frequency with which families in the court system have multiple related cases filed in different courts. Considers the justification for coordinating these separate cases (in some cases unnecessary, but in others, possibly essentials for the well-being of the family members).

Mass Tort Cases

Aikman, Alexander B. Managing Mass Tort Cases: A Resource Book for State Trial Court Judges. (1995). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. A resource book for state court trial judges created from the discussion at the first National Mass Tort Conference.

Probate Cases

Steelman, David C. Improving Protective Probate Processes. (2011).

An Assessment of Guardianship and Conservatorship Procedures in the Probate and Mental Health Department of the Maricopa County Superior Court

Steelman, David C. Managing Probate Workload and Dockets. (1992). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. This report suggests some of the ways to improve the management of judges' workload and dockets without expanding support staff.

Rural Cases

Miller, Fred. Rural Courts are Fertile Ground for Caseflow Management: The Case Processing and Delay Reduction in Rural Courts Project. (June 1991). Williamsburg, Virginia: National Center for State Courts. This article reviews and expands on the delay in rural courts reported from an earlier study originally published in "Delay in Rural Courts: It Exists, But It Can Be Reduced", State Court Journal, Volume 14, Number 3, Summer, 1990.
Strengthening Rural Courts: Challenges and Progress. Future Trends in State Courts.

Rural courts face unique challenges posed by their locations in sparsely populated areas, often with limited resources for themselves and for court users. In many places, however, the challenges are being overcome through effective use of modern technology and support from state administrative offices of courts.

Small Claims Cases

Goerdt, John A. Small Claims and Traffic Courts: Case Management Procedures, Case Characteristics, and Outcomes in 12 Urban Jurisdictions. (1992). Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts. This study is the first to describe and compare the procedures, caseload size, case characteristics, case outcomes, and pace of litigation in traffic cases across several large urban jurisdictions from a variety of states.