November 2008 Workshop on Reducing Trial Court Delay in Metropolitan Courts a success; more workshops planned for 2009

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Over 36 participants attended a special 1½ day, hands-on seminar in Phoenix over Veterans Day (November 10-11) to learn practical techniques from caseflow experts to decrease delay in the flow of cases.  Court leaders from Pittsburgh (Common Pleas Court in Allegheny County), Anchorage (Superior Court in Anchorage) and Chicago (Circuit Court in Cook County) brought teams that included not only judges but prosecutors and defense lawyers as well.  Other courts represented were from Cleveland, Omaha, Dayton and urban areas of Arizona.

The National Conference of Metropolitan Courts (NCMC) has a long history of fighting trial court delay in metro courts.  The seminar was a renewal of that commitment.  Other sponsors included the National Center for State Courts, Institute for Court Management, The National Judicial College, Arizona Supreme Court, Administrative Office of the Arizona Courts, Trial Courts of the Maricopa County Arizona and the National Association for Court Management.  Also in attendance were representatives from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System IAALS) at the University of Denver.  Faculty included Professor Ernie Friesen, Hon. William Dressel, President of The National Judicial College, David Steelman, Principal Management Consultant at the National Center, John Greacen, Greacen Associates, LLC., Hon. Louraine Arkfled, member of the ABA Board of Governors, Hon. Robert D. Myers (ret), former Presiding Judge of the Superior Court in Maricopa County, Hon. Joseph Farina, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Florida in Miami/Dade County, and Pamela Gagel, Assistant Director of IAALS.  Myers and Farina are NCMC Board members.

Reviews by attendees were very positive, including such comments as…

”The assignment of and direct interaction with a faculty member to discuss and address issues was a real plus.”

“Myers and Friesen as a team were excellent.  The other faculty were great, too, and interacted with each other in very enlightening ways for the audience.”

“Folksy and hands-on; court specific.  By all means, continue the small group sessions.”

“The multiple experts were all outstanding!  Their breath of experience and frankness about what works and what doesn’t was extremely insightful.  I would recommend this program to other urban court leaders in a New York minute.”

“An emphasis on early judicial intervention and ways to do it was very helpful.”

“This was a unique and very beneficial gathering of experts on a scale I have never seen.”

“I am energized about sustained caseflow management and motivated to make things happen.”

“The practical concepts of reducing touches, meaningful events and early intervention are invaluable and provide the foundation on which we will build a more streamlined caseflow.”

“It was very important for our team to hear about other jurisdictions, common problems faced by them and us, as well as suggested, practical solutions.  Group discussions were highlights.”

Today, National Public Radio (NPR) aired an interview by Ari Shapiro with Mary McQueen, President of the National Center for State Courts, and various other state court leaders and justice system experts about growing state and local court budget problems. The overriding theme: During tough economic times court workloads often increase, in spite of demands by state and local governments for lower budgets and increased fees, causing many courts to question their ability to provide access to constitutionally or statutorily mandated justice services.

Click on the NPR Internet link below to hear the short five-minute interview. A growing number of courts, now nearing 50% of those surveyed by the National Center according to McQueen, say current budget demands are affecting core functions.

This is the direct link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89140782