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Justice Sector Reform 101 Training Course – November 11, 2010. Typical Challenge 1: Delay in Service Delivery by Justice Sector Institutions. What is meant by case delay The institutional context of delay Setting standards of acceptable delay
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Delay means…something that takes too long to happen….. but what is considered too long for some, may be acceptable for others
Delay beyond an acceptable standard undermines the usefulness of justice sector agencies to those who might need them
Justice sector agencies typically do casework – i.e. they process disputes or claims of all types, case by case
In defining acceptable delay, the challenge is to set a standard of delay that those concerned consider … acceptable. It is not science, but it does require some specificity.
It can happen in many places, impeding the overall flow of casework processing in any kind of justice agency…. especially in courtsWhere does delay happen?
Measuring case delay is sometimes called “aging the caseload”, the process of defining the age profile of a collection of cases
Complaints about very large backlogs in courts are sometimes explained by the presence of a troublesome bubble of intransigent cases that courts avoid processing (or are prevented from processing).
If a court system takes years to process a case, then any improvements will take years before the beneficial impacts are likely to be measured.
Courts that lack computerized systems can age cases by comparing dates, usually the date a case is commenced with the date measured (for active cases) or the date the case is finalized.
Measurements are needed to evaluate the effects of delay reduction programs (and other phenomena) in terms of both volumes AND time. This can be achieved by taking these kinds of measures:
Clearance rates: Cases finalized divided by new cases registered over a given period, and represented either as a number or a percentage.
Routine court statistics – many courts will count new case registrations monthly (possibly annual counts of active cases), but often little else
Court caseload census – asking court secretaries to count cases as a one-off exercise
Case file studies – examination of a sampling of court files to extract numerical information – e.g. age, case type
Daily transaction survey – analysis of what occurs in a courtroom in terms of the processes of case disposal – e.g. ratio of disposed to adjourned cases per court day
User survey – questionnaire or survey taken of visitors to a courthouse or other agencyPractical measures of causes of delay
In the absence of evidence, our sense of the causes of delay usually begins with (and may be limited by) what the client judiciary believes to be a cause (or what the analyst believes to be the unstated causes)
Analyze the nature of delay to identify what kind of cases are most affected
Attempt to diagnose why those kinds of cases are affected
Apply interventions that are likely to deal most directly with those causes
Consider the risk of applying general remedies that may have no impact on the specific problemsA suggested starting point for addressing case processing delay as a development issue
Reform court rules for modern systems of case management
Improve the personal effectiveness of judges & court staff through training
Give court personnel better tools to work with, such as computer networks and databases
Give judges better technology to use in the courtroom
Build better facilities for courts – refurbish offices and courtrooms
Budgetary reform for courts – increase fundsPossible general “interventions” to address case delay