The Justice Programs Office (JPO), a center in the School of Public Affairs at American University, in partnership with Right to Counsel (R2C) National Campaign consortium member the National Association for Court Management (NACM) partnered on a project which recently released its final report titled, Enhancing Caseflow Management to Ensure Effective Assistance of Counsel.
With SJI support, the report and archived webinar available through NACM, explore the tension between ensuring the right to counsel and caseflow management, what causes it and what alleviates it, and what judges and court administrators can do both separately and as a team to ease it.
Caseflow management is defined as the coordination of court processes to ensure court proceedings progress in a timely and efficient manner. This can sometimes result in courts’ feeling pressure to process cases quickly in order to clear a docket and avoid case delay. This pressure may also result in the scheduling of case events without consideration for whether a defense attorney has been assigned to the case, and if so, whether one has had time to sufficiently prepare for these events. In some instances, competing interests may emerge—those supporting prompt resolution of cases against those supporting effective assistance of counsel, which at times may slow down case proceedings. When these interests are not adequately addressed, a tension emerges for judges and court administrators: the right to counsel tension.
The report is the culmination of several activities that involved face-to-face meetings with court professionals, industry expert analysis, and a focus on two courts in Spokane, Washington, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.