Court Information Office
Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
For Immediate Release
JUDICIARY ASSESSES CASE PROCESSING
(Annapolis, MD— February 8, 2002) Preliminary results from the assessment phase of the Judiciary’s case processing time standards for the Circuit Courts and the District Court are now available, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell announced today. These standards set time guidelines in specific case categories for purposes of improving case management in the Maryland trial courts.
Proceeding from a preliminary set of time guidelines established by the Maryland Judicial Council, a case processing assessment was conducted in each Circuit Court and District Court in the State through the summer and fall of 2001. Based upon the findings of these individual assessments, each jurisdiction prepared a plan on how best to improve case management within the court. At its December meeting, the Judicial Council considered recommendations from the trial courts and moved formally to adopt the case time standards, as well as determining its next steps, to include case management training for judges, administrators and clerks, the transfer of best practices to and from courts across the State, and a follow-up assessment in late 2002 to measure trial court progress.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to improving the quality of justice, we developed self-imposed time standards, and in some cases, we knew they were probably not likely to be achieved. Nonetheless, we found that our judges, court administrators and clerks relished the challenge and are developing new approaches to ensuring expeditious justice without sacrificing fairness,” Judge Bell stated.
The Judiciary developed the guidelines using the ABA’s uniform case management standards as a reference point. Geoff Gallas, one of the nation’s leading authorities on court management, assisted the Judiciary in creating the guidelines. “The Maryland standards are actually more comprehensive than those promulgated by the ABA,” Dr. Gallas said. “These standards have been adjusted to Maryland statutes and rules in a unique process. Arguably, Maryland is undertaking the most comprehensive attack on this issue of high public concern than any state in history.” Chief Judge Bell agreed that setting these guidelines was crucial to determine how the Judiciary currently rates in its case processing efforts.
The Chair of the Conference of Circuit Judges, Judge Paul H. Weinstein, said “Overall, I believe time standards are infinitely helpful in establishing accountability measurements. We embraced this concept in 1993 with the implementation of Differentiated Case Management, and I believe the study supports this effort.”
Chief Judge James N. Vaughan, Chief Judge of the District Court of Maryland, expressed similar sentiments. "While making the study, the District Court immediately began to address certain areas where the time standards fell short of the parameters. The District Court has been meeting with stakeholders and has received extensive cooperation from attorneys, prosecutors, defense attorneys, police and other agencies directly involved in the court process. With their continued assistance, we believe we can go a long way to achieving the goals envisioned by Chief Judge Bell."