Appearance Rates Judicial Curriculum

Missed court appearances are bad for everyone. They can create additional work for courthouse staff and result in inefficiencies in staffing and scheduling. They can frustrate the appearing party and cause delays in a case. And, perhaps most consequentially, a missed appearance can have serious repercussions for communities, and can result in fees and fines, bench warrants, default judgments, license suspensions, and even jail time for the party that failed to appear.

Court leaders around the country have recognized that from a policy, procedural fairness, access to justice, and collateral consequences perspective, something needs to be done to ensure that more people show up to court. This begs the question - what should courts do?

To tackle this, and in collaboration with the Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Center for State Courts has collected national best practices and research about the causes and possible solutions to this problem in the following curriculum. First, in Section I you will learn about some of the barriers court users face and reasons they might not appear. Next, in Section II, you will put that learning to work, and contextualize that information within real data about your community. Then, in Section III you will debrief and prepare to take a deeper look at your jurisdiction’s approach to appearance rates. Finally, in Section IV, armed with this information, you will use NCSC’s Appearance Rate Report Card tool to get customized recommendations for ways you can improve appearance rates in your jurisdictions.

Oh -- and you will have fun along the way!

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the three modules, learners will:

  • Recognize the barriers court users face when appearing in court
  • Connect judicial processes to court users’ appearance rates
  • Relate appearance rates to the courts’ duty to provide due process
  • Appreciate the indirect impact for court users when consequences are imposed for missed appearances
  • Identify what type of interventions or solutions are available to combat barriers and improve appearance rates
  • Understand how courts have enacted changes to reduce barriers and improve appearance rates
  • Be prepared to evaluate their own court practices related to appearance rates and prioritize areas for improvement