Court Management Trends
Crime has always been a characteristic of society which has been rather difficult to eliminate. Given the high number of criminal cases, the criminal justice system is overwhelmed by work causing delays within the court systems. In an attempt to improve the performance of the courts and to speed up the handling of the cases in an efficient manner, there has been the need to make reforms and create facilities such as specialty or alternative courts. The problem-solving courts referred to as the specialty courts have emerged to help in the reduction of the rates of incarceration. The problem-solving courts also play a big role in providing supervision to the offenders serving probation in mental health treatment facilities and at the substance abuse rehabilitation centers. The specialty courts are designed to deal with drugs, alcohol, and crime by helping the affected individuals to abstain from them. Court consolidation is an emerging trend that is being used to restructure the courts’ system where the court personnel is integrated into a single circuit court. Today, all the States in America including the federal government have legislation based on victim rights which describe the manner in which victims should be treated.
In the last decade, problem-solving courts have emerged as an important part of the American Criminal Justice System. They were implemented in an effort to respond to the overwhelming cases handled by the court system which left numerous cases. The problem-solving courts, therefore, emerged as a solution to dealing with the workload but took a more precise dimension where they handle cases related to mental health, drug abuse, domestic violence, and legal issues (Wiener & Brank, 2015). There are various types of specialty courts which include; community courts, domestic violence courts, drug courts, and mental health courts. Community courts mainly oversee community service sanctions while DV courts focus on victim safety and perpetrator accountability. Drug courts were implemented to integrate alcohol and other treatment services with the criminal justice system where offenders with addiction to the substances are referred to the rehabilitation centers instead of incarceration. Mental health courts help to emphasize the need for a special environment for offenders with mental health problems.
Consolidation of the courts into one court of Justice main aim is the creation of a strong branch. With consolidation, there is minimal waste of judicial power since there are no rigid organizational lines which could cause conflict between the many judges regarding who should handle a particular case. Consolidation, therefore, means simplification of the court which means there will be the elimination of obstacles related to the multi-layered trial courts hence minimizing cost and time of litigation. Consolidating the lower courts of the state would mean that their powers are extended which make it easy to serve the local communities more efficiently. Consolidation would mean that victims will be more aware of their rights at the given jurisdiction. Victims’ rights depend on the jurisdiction laws of where the crime is being investigated and prosecuted which could either be federal, state, or military. However, victims are allowed some degree of protection, and right to certain information while undergoing the criminal justice process. The right to be treated with dignity, respect, and sensitivity is among the provision of all the jurisdictions (Darian-Smith, 2013). The right to be informed ensures that the victims have the necessary information that helps them exercise their rights according to the fifth and sixth amendment. Victims have the right to know why they are arrested and those who accuse them. Victims have a right to speedy trial failure to which they may file a complaint and have their case dismissed in case this right is violated with no probable cause. Victims have a right to enforcement of their rights which means that states are beginning to open up offices where victims can complain about the violation of their rights.
In order to accommodate the implantation of the specialty courts, the conference of chief justices and that of state court administrators, as well as policy leaders in the state courts, came up with a resolution to support the changes. At the local level, consolidation of the lower courts would empower them to serve the local communities better. Together with the provision of alternative courts, it would be easier for families to get cases on domestic violence heard and action to be taken again perpetrators instead of having to wait for the lengthy process due to work overload. Consolidation has helped to minimize the number of courts a plaintiff has to attend hence minimizing wastage of time and cost (Zorza, 2012). At the federal level, the conflict between judge has been minimized which resulted from determining which judge would handle which case or from judges rule similar cases on different grounds. Consolidation has made it easy and faster to access counsel hence enabling the respect to the right to a speedy trial for the victims. The existence of community courts has led to the immediate and meaningful provision of sanctions on offenders. The community courts have allowed the offender to participate in their criminal justice process hence enabling them to identify the cause of their criminal behavior.
Darian-Smith, E. (2013). Laws and societies in global contexts: Contemporary approaches. Cambridge University Press.
Wiener, R. L., & Brank, E. M. (2015). Problem-solving courts. Springer.
Zorza, R. (2012). Some first thoughts on court simplification: The key to civil access and justice transformation. Drake L. Rev., 61, 845.