A fundamental role of courts is to ensure fair processes and just outcomes for litigants. SJI promotes the integration of research-based procedural fairness principles, policies, and practices into state court operations to increase public trust and confidence in the court system, reduce recidivism, and increase compliance with court orders.
Municipal Courts Survey Kiosk Project
Texas Municipal Courts Education Center (TMCEC), in partnership with LaGratta Consulting, set out to test new ways for courts to collect and learn from court user feedback, particularly in the domain of perceived fairness. Among the key dimensions of procedural fairness is voice or court users feeling like they had a chance to be heard. Many courts have made meaningful improvements to their procedural justice practices, whether through judicial and court staff training, use of judicial bench cards, access to justice and plain language initiatives, or improvements to their court websites, signage, and courthouse environments. Among these advancements in prioritizing procedural fairness, few courts have efficient and effective ways to solicit and utilize input from court users about their experience. Court user feedback serves a dual purpose by giving voice to court users, while also helping courts benchmark their success and use input to improve court users’ experiences.
Municipal courts from seven cities of various size were selected as pilot sites to collect court user feedback. Each municipal court committed to collecting court user feedback over a three-month period using provided software and equipment. Each pilot court also participated in regular individual and all-site calls with project staff to monitor progress and troubleshoot any issues. The project culminated in the production of a Toolkit for Collecting and Learning from Court User Feedback.
Enhancing Caseflow Management to Ensure Right to Counsel
The American University Justice Programs Office partnered with the National Association for Court Management (NACM) and the National Association of Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO) to examine the tension between ensuring the right to counsel and caseflow management. Project partners convened court practitioners and national experts to examine court practices that may prevent, resolve, or mitigate the tension between caseflow management and right to counsel, and develop strategies for their implementation. The subsequent report, Enhancing Caseflow Management to Ensure Effective Assistance of Counsel and archived webinar available through NACM, are 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.