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


In their timely and topical book, Reimagining Courts, Victor Flango and Thomas Clarke argue that courts are a victim of their own success. Disputes that once were resolved either informally in the family or within the community are now handled mainly by courts, which strains government agency resources. The authors offer provocative suggestions for a thorough overhaul of American state and local courts, one that better fits the needs of a twenty-first century legal system. Reimagining Courts recommends a triage process based upon case characteristics, litigant goals, and resolution processes. Courts must fundamentally reorganize their business processes around the concept of the litigant as a customer. Each adjudication process that the authors propose requires a different case management process and different amounts of judicial, staff, and facility resources. Reimagining Courts should spark much-needed debate. This book will be of significant interest to lawyers, judges, and professionals in the court system as well as to scholars in public administration and political science.

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.