Chief Justice Martin’s Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice is examining the criminal case management system in North Carolina.   A consultant speaking  to the committee found much room for positive reform in our system.

Key Findings Included:

1.  Cases are not being resolved timely in NC courts and are not meeting current NC guidelines.

2.  The lack of timeliness has an impact on justice including:

  • Victims wait too long
  • Witnesses may become unavailable
  • Public Defenders wait an average of 4.5 hours as do families of defendants.
  • Some people are sitting in jail 3-5 weeks – at a cost to the counties – because no counsel has been assigned.

3.  A number of NC practices don’t conform with other states and some deserve attention.

  • District Attorneys control the case flow but it is better to have the Court take on this role.
  • Every case setting should be a meaningful event; right now there are 6 or more continuances in every case.

4.  Benefits will result if the state addresses these issues including:

  • Reduced cost of pre-trial detention
  • Reduced security risks
  • Reduced costs of state and local officials

Recommendations Include

  1. The  NC Supreme court should manage a statewide effort to improve caseflow management and establish rules of practice.   The Court could establish a board responsible for overall strategy. The board could review existing statutes, recommend rules to reduce delay and establish and monitor pilot projects.
  2. Pretrial issues could be resolved at the Administrative setting.
  3. A case should be a single incident
  4. NC should collect needed data for case management.