Promotes practical reform ideas to make courts more effective, more efficient, and more customer friendly
A Design for the Twenty-First Century
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Victor E. Flango and Thomas M. Clarke
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.
"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."
"[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."
"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."
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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.