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Showing posts from February, 2009

Annals of Backlog and Congestion: New Delhi, India

State court leaders and managers take heart! Things could be worse. Much worse!

In a widely circulated story last week, Sam Dolnick of the Associated Press (AP) reported that, according to Chief Justice A.P.Shah, the High Court in New Delhi is so behind that it could take up to 466 years (not days or even months, years) to clear its backlog of cases. In a vast understatement, retired Supreme Court Justice J.S. Verma, who is critic of the system, is quoted as saying “I don’t think you would have to wait four centuries to have a case decided.”

Reasons cited for the backlog in India include the usual suspects: lack of accountability for results, corruption, inefficiency, and an uneven application of the rule of law favoring the wealthy and well-connected. Another is that India does not have enough sitting judges. "It’s a completely collapsed system,” Prashant Brushan, a well known lawyer in New Delhi, is quoted as saying. “This country only lives under the illusion that there is a j…

Measuring What Really Matters in Hard Times

State courts are facing severe budget cuts in the current economic crisis. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 44 states are facing shortfalls in their FY 2009 and/or FY 2010 budgets. By most accounts, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.

Some of my more optimistic colleagues (who -- I might add -- are fortunate enough to have solid jobs) subscribe to the “necessity is the mother of invention” school of thought on the deepening recession. They have a point.

While they do not wish ill toward their court friends on the receiving end of drastic budget cuts, they see a bright spot in the months and years ahead. They welcome the sense of urgency. They're hoping it will give birth to clarity of focus and innovation.

They see courts and state court systems today forced to confront issues and questions that they believe should be asked all the time, not just now: What are our fundamental obligations? What is expected of us? Which prog…