Thursday, June 14, 2012



By Alan Miller, Candidate for Judge Superior Court II

Efficiency and Scheduling

There are problems within the county court system. In the next several weeks, I will post my proposals that outline how I think we can do better. 

Today, I will continue to discuss my proposals related to efficiency in the courts.

Settlement conferences mandatory  

Cases drag on, criminal and civil alike, although oftentimes a resolution could be reached if the parties involved would simply sit down and discuss their points of view.  As such, in cases where two attorneys are involved, an order will be issued requiring the parties to speak with each other no later than 10 days following the second attorney’s entry into the case.  Failure to do so will be viewed as a violation of the court’s order and would be punishable by contempt.  

Deadlines will be firm 

Currently, most deadlines in the court are what I would call “soft.”  For example, in a criminal matter, the parties are given a plea deadline, a date at which the parties must decide hether they wish to negotiate an agreement for the resolution of the case or proceed to trial.  While these are called “deadlines,” the current court will oftentimes accept plea agreements submitted well after the supposed deadline.  As a result, the parties will not truly begin to negotiate until right before or even after the deadline.  In the most extreme circumstances, three or four cases will all extend past the plea deadline, leaving all the parties in limbo while it is determined whose case will actually proceed to trial.

In other circumstances, attorneys or other parties sometimes use delay as a tactic.  Reasonable deadlines will be set, allowing the attorneys time to do their job, exchanging evidence, negotiating and the like.  The court, not stalling parties, should dictate the pace of a case and control the calendar.  When elected, deadlines set by the court will be taken seriously and will be strictly enforced.  Failure to do so will be viewed as a violation of the court’s order and would be punishable by contempt.  

Explore Saturday morning court for initial hearings 

One place where court time may also be saved is criminal initial hearings.  In a criminal case, one charged with an offense must be advised of their rights within a certain time frame.  Often times, individuals arrested on a Friday do not appear in front of a judge until the following Monday.  During holiday weekends, individuals are held until court reopens.  This results in jail space being used as a holding facility for non-violent offenders, local residents and individuals with jobs, simply because the courts are not open.  When elected, I will explore whether Saturday morning court would be a viable option to relieve some of the overcrowding.  It is my belief that if the court were willing to have a brief hearing on Saturday mornings, this could result in these individuals being released and freeing up jail space for people who are truly a danger to the community or themselves. 

This is the third part of my platform statement; a detailed proposal for how to improve our current justice system. It will be released over the next several months through and PLEASE feel free to forward this to your friends and family.
Thanks for your continued support
Alan Miller


Anonymous said...

Id like to see a debate. Miller vs. Blankenship.

HK said...

I think Miller's weekly pieces illustrate that there are questions we didn't even know we should ask!

Anonymous said...

So you are telling me he is going to put lawyers in jail if they don't have a "settlement conference" I don't know a lot about how lawyers operate, but that doesn't even sound remotely reasonable. What is this? Judge Hitler?

HK said...

Not every crime means jail time- maybe a contempt citation is a fine.
Lawyers bill by the hour - they might lose some pay if they don't do their work properly.
It's like being paid for productivity or efficiency and then being docked if you aren't productive or efficient.
I bet the "quick to go to jail" treatment would change if a lawyer ended up in there tho...