Court performance is one of those naughty topics in law. Lawyers frequently lament to their clients that they cannot guarantee just results from the courts in their jurisdictions. I did it myself when I was an active litigator. At the same time, very rarely do lawyers take responsibility for improving court performance (I can think of one exception off the top of my head – the performance of the Delaware chancery court for corporate clients). Indeed, lawyers are usually content to accept that attempting such improvement would violate “judicial independence” Convenient for lawyers. Perhaps less so for clients.
So does protecting judicial independence trump monitoring and improving judicial performance? For example, should courts publicize waiting times, settlement rates, reversal rates, consistency, and such? Or should such data not even be collected, lest the public start thinking about whether they are satisfied with the performance of their legal systems? And what about reporting on the courts to the public? Who does that anyway?
And is law about heroic individual, brilliant judges who make history deciding great cases, or is law about delivering a basic service to the people who need it on a day by day basis? These thoughts troubled me as I read a post about a new book called “The Mother Court“.