Impact of Case Assignment on Criminal Court Performance

For the National Institute of Justice, ILJ researched the effects on court performance of transferring certain cases from felony court jurisdiction to a lower court where decisional procedures are emphasized. Three aspects of performance were evaluated: effectiveness, or the total number of cases processed; efficiency, or the average cost per case; and quality, or change in sentence. The study focused on effects of innovative approaches to speedy trial requirements developed in two New Jersey Superior Court vicinages. Findings showed that one site emphasized early disposition in the lower court while the other stressed more effective management in the Superior Court. Both were instrumental in reducing delay and in processing cases more efficiently. A secondary evaluation of impact of case assignment on sentencing showed no substantial impact.