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What Makes A Court Problem-Solving? Universal Performance Indicators for Problem-Solving Justice

NCJ Number
Rachel Porter; Michael Rempel; Adam Mansky
Date Published
February 2010
75 pages
This report identifies a set of universal performance indicators for specialized "problem-solving courts" and related experiments in problem-solving justice.
The report advises that the recent explosion of problem-solving courts and other experiments for addressing the underlying problems of litigants, victims, and communities, has created an urgent need to complement traditional court performance indicators with ones related to a problem-solving approach. The study achieved three goals. First, it established a set of universal performance indicators against which to judge the effectiveness of specialized problem-solving courts. Second, it developed performance indicators specific to each of the four major problem-solving court models: drug, mental health, domestic violence, and community courts. Third, it assisted traditional court managers by establishing a more limited set of indicators that are designed to capture problem-solving activity for all courts, not only a specialized court. These goals were achieved through multiple methods. A literature review examined existing problem-solving court evaluations and performance measures. Also, two focus groups were convened; one focused on New York State and the other on national problem-solving experiments. The authors also conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with eight additional experts. After deciding on initial conclusions, the authors then reviewed these conclusions with two groups. Findings were first presented to a roundtable of judges and court administrators in a single county that maintains a wide range of problem-solving courts and high-volume traditional courts. In addition, findings were presented to the research department and senior managers at the Center for Court Innovation. Based on this research, the performance indicators are grouped into three organizing principles: problem-solving orientation, collaboration, and accountability. 103 references