Currently, there are several major issues that are affecting court managers and administrators today. Among them are the education and training of future court managers, how to provide adequate language interpretation services, and the impact that victim’s rights can and should have on court proceedings. By exploring these issues, the severity of the problems, and possible solutions, can be determined.
While court management is a rather old vocation, it has not risen to the challenge of modern professionalism as of yet. When taking a look at current court managers, it surprising to note that at least 32% do not hold a four-year degree, and many have learned the position through little more than on the job training (Hartley & Bates, 2006). Considering the impact court managers have on the efficiency of the courts in general, the issue needs to be addressed. Universities in several states are beginning to provide courses in court room administration. The next challenge is getting people interested in the job to begin with. Due to the lack of professionalization, the position of court room manager has not been able to offer competitive wages to those that have attained higher levels of education. As professionalism increases, individuals with higher educational achievements will enter the field. While not full proof, education increases the chances that the court manager will be able to effectively make quality decisions concerning funding and every day operation at court. This is essential as the court manager is responsible for the funding of key court room programs, including language interpretation and victim advocacy programs.
Concerning language interpretation, major decisions need to be made by court managers as the issues affects every step of the justice system within the courts. Those that have trouble understanding the English language, but are impacted by the system, need to be able to adequately communicate with key members of the courts including his or her representative attorney, judge, and jury (Robinson, 2009). Relationship with the jury box is often overlooked as the need to express information at time of arrest often takes precedence. However, if the accused is not able to convey information in a clear and meaningful manner in the way the jury can comprehend, the accused may already find themselves in a predicament concerning justice. With this in mind, an increase in language interpreters has proven necessary to meet the demands of English as second language citizens. The court manager must then decide which types of interpreters are most valuable to the community they serve.
Language interpretation also plays heavily on the concept of victim’s rights. As previously mentioned, this is instrumental to being able to provide accurate witness statements in order to apprehend the correct perpetrator. Recent trends have shown a tendency to create more victims’ advocacy programs and support. Court managers may consider providing extra interpretative services to these programs so that victims can continue to be provided with valuable services after the initial phase of the justice process. However, it must be said, that these advocacy programs need to be accessible to native English speakers as well.
In the past, concern for the rights of the victim was minimal at best. The tendency was to receive testimony, then forget about the victim. In the recent past, however, there has been a push to add more programs to help victims to recover from the trauma they have endured. Among these changes are programs that allow the victim to be updated about the case developments and programs that compensate victims for attorney and medical fees as well as lost wages due to physical and emotional injury (Muraskin & Roberts, 2009). This includes a large advocacy for a Victim’s Rights amendment being added to the U.S. Constitution. While this is a hotly debated issue, it’s conception shows great strides in the attitudes towards victims.
There is, however, a dark side to the current interest in victims’ rights; namely, that the emphasis on serving the victim can hinder the justice process. In the pursuit of righting the wrongs done to the victim, the rights of the accused often get violated. There have been many instances in which the victim’s testimony has been the sole evidence provided in a case, and that information has later been proven to be wrong. These false convictions taint the justice process, leaving people fearful of the agencies that are supposed to serve them. Men, in particular, are subject to being falsely incarcerated as there is a tendency to view women as victims. In one instance a woman was even successful in framing her ex-husband even though she was caught with blood on her hands at the scene of the crime (Robinson, 2009). Another issue is that not all victims are treated equally. Differential access to justice based on social roles, and occasionally ethnicity.
Future court managers and administrators have a difficult road ahead. They must be able to balance the needs of the community with trending issues in the criminal justice system such as language interpretation and victim’s rights. By seeking higher educational levels and being sensitive his or her community, a court manager can have a positive impact on the future of criminal justice in their locality.
Hartley, R. E., & Bates, K. (2006). Meeting the challenge of educating court managers. Judicature, 90(2), 81-88.
Muraskin, R., & Roberts, A. R. (2009). Visions for change: Crime and justice in the twenty-first century (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
Robinson, M. B. (2009). Justice blind? Ideals and realities of American criminal justice (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.