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
- 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.
- Pretrial issues could be resolved at the Administrative setting.
- A case should be a single incident
- NC should collect needed data for case management.