Reimagining Courts

A Design for the Twenty-First Century

Victor E. Flango and Thomas M. Clarke
Book Cover

PB: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1168-6
Publication: Mar 17

HC: $64.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1167-9
Publication: Dec 14

Ebook: $64.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-1169-3
Publication: Dec 14

230 pages
5.5 x 8.25
9 tables, 4 line drawings

Promotes practical reform ideas to make courts more effective, more efficient, and more customer friendly


Reimagining Courts is an original book that should generate robust discussion. Flango and Clarke present a convincing case that we need to change our conceptions of what courts do and we need to consider the variety of reforms that already exist. The authors raise tough questions that do not have easy answers, providing examples of the provocative kinds of questions that should create strong debate and critical dialogue.” —Robert L. Dudley, Professor of Government, School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University

"The idea of completely re-organizing court functions according to "whether a court is the right forum" for the matter (see p. 40 of the manuscript) and according to issues raised and whether they require adversarial adjudication - as opposed to current court functioning which takes all cases and organizes them by type - is groundbreaking. The authors are obviously very well-versed in the major approaches to this problem and are in an excellent position to envision the alternatives." —Candce McCoy

" The authors propose a series of linked reforms leading toward more, and more intelligent, use of administrative bodies and innovations like drug courts. Flango and Clarke are associated with the National Center for State Courts, and their suggestions are informed by the research done by that respected organization.... The proposals are intriguing and well thought out; many extend experiments currently being tried. Summing Up: Recommended." —Choice

"(A)n important book discussing needed reforms in our American judicial system, written by two individuals who have been privy to the inner workings of state court systems for a number of years.... The crux and most important part of the book is the problem-solving process and the implications thereof.... All in all, Flango and Clarke present a thought-provoking compilation of ideas for court reform." --Judicature

"I agree with Flango and Clarke that courts have been too reticent to rethink what they do and how they do it. Many of the changes they are suggesting can be done internally by the judges and administrative leaders and through negotiations with the Bar. Some require changes in law or state rules, but they all are achievable by those who adopt Flango and Clarke’s vision or a variation of it. Flango and Clarke wisely cite courts that already have adopted and successfully implemented each of their suggestions. The gap between Flango and Clarke’s vision and the cited cutting-edge courts is that no court has implemented all of the ideas. The authors know it will be hard for many courts to adopt some of the ideas soon and maybe even after many years. That realization does not undermine the value of putting the ideas out there so they can be adopted and proven by courts that see their merits." -- Thinking Out Loud

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables Acknowledgments Overview Vision of the New Court Process Courts as though Litigants Mattered The Court Response Financial Problems Remedies Plan of This Book Part I. Aligning Image with Reality 1 Why Courts Need to Be Redesigned The Challenge: Burgeoning Caseloads Countertrends Financial Crisis: Engine for Change 2 What Courts Actually Do Courts Settle Traffic Cases Criminal Cases Civil Cases Part II. Triage and the Four Case-Processing Tracks 3 Triage: Separating Cases by Processing Required The Need for Triage Four Adjudicatory Processes The Adversary Process and Courts Are Intertwined Routine Cases: The Dispositional Process The Problem-Solving Process Triage by Issue Triage and Processing Tracks Appendix to Chapter 3. Functional Equivalents to Triage: Historical Strategies 4 The Adversary Process The Adversary Process Should Be Reserved for Trials Decreasing Trials Triage: Trial Worthiness Role of the Judge: Umpire Court Staff Facilities Court Performance Proposed Remedies Appendix to Chapter 4. The Decreasing Number of Jury and Bench Trials 5 The Dispositional Process Criminal Processing Civil Cases Triage Role of the Judge: Adjudicator Court Staff Facilities Court Performance Implications 6 The Administrative Process Purpose Caseload Triage Role of the Judge: Administrator Alternatives Appendix to Chapter 6. Substituting Court Jurisdiction with Administrative Jurisdiction: An Example 7 The Problem-Solving Process Specialized Problem-Solving Courts Unified Family Courts Workload Role of the Judge: Problem Solver Court Staff Facilities Triage Can Specialized Problem-Solving Courts Be Reconciled with Court Reform? Are Triage and Coordination the Answer? 8 Implications of the Problem-Solving Approach for Court Reform Two Separate Processes: The Legal Model and the Medical Model Medical Model in Corrections Medical Model versus Legal Model in Courts Treatment Focus Why the Two Processes Must Be Kept Separate Mainstreaming Problem-Solving Principles Is Treatment a Court Responsibility? Part III. Making the Reimagined Court a Reality 9 Case-Triage Strategies in Action Reducing Jurisdiction Increasing Litigant Choice Streamlining Processes Optimizing Scarce Resources Implications for Judicial and Court Staff Selection, Education, and Training Putting It All Together 10 Implementing the Vision of a Modern Court The Worldview of the Modern Court Suggestions for Reform Barriers to Implementation Getting There from Here Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author(s)

Victor E. Flango has recently retired as Executive Director, Program Resource Development at the National Center for State Courts.

Thomas M. Clarke is Vice President for Research and Technology at the National Center for State Courts.