State Judiciary Principles
Courts must use enhanced technologies to make case processing and court administration more efficient, less costly and more transparent.
Commentary: Both the legislature and the public expect the courts to use the same modern technology that other fields use. It is a sign of good management and responsible public stewardship. It also offers a strategic response to the chronic funding crisis.
The courts should be organized to improve efficiency and effectiveness in court structures, procedures and personnel.
Commentary: History and local control are important, but the courts can no longer afford to support multiple business solutions to the same problems. Local flexibility is still encouraged when appropriate.
Courts should provide equitable levels of judicial services.
Commentary: Citizens should not be denied certain court services or quality court services just because of where they live. The courts need to offer the same access to justice everywhere, regardless of where they live in the state.
The courts should deploy resources in a manner that is cost efficient while maintaining effectiveness and quality.
Commentary: The potential for improving service through reorganization is great. Technology and other business improvements can be used to “level” workload across court jurisdictions without reducing local access to the courts. This approach offers significant savings without reducing personnel in rural courts. Also, studies show that specialty or problem solving courts can save significant money.
Each case should receive judicial attention the case merits according to the issues in the case.
Commentary: A renewed emphasis on case triage and caseflow management offers potentially significant savings in several areas. These improvements have profound implications for the structure and business processes of the courts. The court can build on the best practices embodied in classic differentiated caseflow management.
Tasks should be allocated to Judicial officers and staff according to the expertise required while preserving quality of justice and access to justice.
Commentary: Judges and staff are the most expensive resources. It only makes sense to use them as much of the time on tasks that are most appropriate for them, rather than case events that do not include any important judgments or decisions. The idea is to add flexibility, so that judges and staff can be used more efficiently. This is particularly important in civil case types that could be handled using different degrees of due process. Similarly, the courts should seek to economize the required resources of their criminal justice partners as well.
The courts should work together with their justice partners to improve efficiency while preserving the administration and quality of justice.
Commentary: The operation of the court system is about more than just the courts themselves. Other agencies, organizations and sovereign entities also play an important role and are themselves affected by how the courts operate. The same is true for the public, who are also customers and participants in court processes.
The courts must maintain or improve access to justice even while it improves efficiency.
Commentary: As budgets are cut, courts are restructured, and technology is increasingly used to achieve greater efficiencies, it is important to preserve access to justice in all of its forms (including access to interpreters, self-help, local court services, etc.). This means providing adequate services to self-represented litigants, low income litigants, and those requiring access to counsel.
The courts should reduce cost and complexity for litigants, justice partners, and the public while improving predictability and convenience.
Commentary: Polls of the public consistently find that the courts are viewed as too costly, too complex, too unpredictable and inconvenient. While these findings come from litigants, witnesses and jurors, other justice partners encounter the same problems. The courts need to redesign their business processes to improve the justice experience.