Justice Efficiencies and
Access to the Justice System

1. Cooperation & expectations: Effective case management requires cooperation and clear expectations.

The sectors or “players” in the justice system are autonomous within their sphere. This distributes power and identifies where responsibility for each decision resides. No element is “in control” of the justice system. But each depends on the others. The combination of autonomy and interdependence means they must cooperate appropriately to be effective.

It follows that decisions affecting process should be made with consideration for the impact they have on the rest of the system. The needs of each element of the formal system as well as the accused, witnesses and victims must be considered in developing effective case management practices.

A successful case management system meets broadly accepted expectations and respects the interests of participants. Cooperation is informed by stated, mutual expectations that enable accurate prediction of events and requirements, including resource requirements and performance standards.

The public expects accountability and good stewardship of the criminal justice system.

The Court expects the participants to prepare and conduct each case properly in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and practice directions. This includes early consideration of issues so that hearings focus on what can only be resolved in court and counsel arrive prepared to optimize each appearance.

There is or ought to be an expectation that all counsel actively cooperate with each other and the court in the effective management and conduct of cases.

Other people affect the operation of the courts. Witnesses and victims who understand the system and their part in it will contribute more effectively to the process. The timely provision of information and resources to them pays dividends. This is particularly true for the accused during the initial stages of a case.

The proper disposition of a case requires management of a long supply line consisting of many people and much information. People seen as minor or peripheral participants such as prisoner escorts and policymakers can have a significant impact on court operation. Failure to bring a prisoner to court for a scheduled appearance defeats the best-case management system. Failure to advise authorities that a prisoner is no longer needed for court results in unnecessary prisoner movement. Significant changes in enforcement policy affect demands on the criminal justice system.

Fundamental to cooperation is development of realistic expectations and obligations that respond to the needs of all criminal justice constituencies. One such expectation is that justice ministers within government will take a leadership role in acting as a broker amongst the criminal justice constituencies and in advocating for the support and resources that the system may demonstrably require.

Implementation Examples

a. Pamphlets and web pages that explain court procedures and how to obtain legal counsel in lay terms should be encouraged not only as a means of promoting justice in individual cases but also to improve the effectiveness of each appearance and of the system as a whole

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