Procedural Justice

Research has shown that when defendants and litigants perceive the court process to be fair, they are more likely to comply with court orders and follow the law in the future—regardless of whether they “win” or “lose” their case. The Center for Court Innovation is committed to advancing the idea of procedural justice through operating programs, research, and providing expert assistance.

4 Sites are Selected for Procedural Justice Assessments

Following a national solicitation, the Center for Court Innovation and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance have selected four criminal courts to participate in a procedural justice assessment in the fall of 2015. The assessments will be conducted at no cost to the jurisdictions. The jurisdictions are:

  • Essex County Superior Court (Salem, Mass.)
  • 5th Judicial District of Pennsylvania (Allegheny County, Penn.)
  • Multnomah County Circuit Court (Ore.)
  • Utah State Court System

Each site has committed to examining local operations to identify promising practices for the field, as well as opportunities for improvement. The ultimate goal of the assessments is to advance procedural justice locally and nationally.

In The News

  • Judge Alex Calabrese of the Red Hook Community Justice Center joins Latino USA to discuss the Justice Center's emphasis on procedural justice.
  • Victoria Pratt, chief judge of Newark Municipal Court, describes her work on procedural justice during an appearance on "The Melissa Harris-Perry Show" on MSNBC.
  • The Guardian profiles Newark Community Solutions, examining the origins and evolution of the program and the growing national interest in procedural justice.
  • Q&A with Julian Adler of the Center for Court Innovation on how procedural justice can reduce crime.

 

Practical Tips and Tools

The Center for Court Innovation has assembled several practical tools, including defendant interview instruments and courtroom observation protocols, to assist courts in assessing the extent to which they are implementing the principles of  procedural justice. For more information, click here.

Articles

In Focus: Tracey L. Meares

In Focus: Tracey L. Meares

Yale Scholar Promotes Procedural Justice, Violence Prevention

Yale Law School professor Tracey L. Meares at the Community Justice 2014 summit in San Francisco.Yale Law School professor Tracey L. Meares at the Community Justice 2014 summit in San Francisco.Tracey L. Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School, has written and lectured widely on crime prevention, procedural justice, and community capacity building, with an emphasis on empirical investigation.

She was instrumental in developing "Project Safe Neighborhoods," a groundbreaking empirical approach to violence reduction that was documented to curtail violence in Chicago.

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Publications

Improving Courtroom Communication: A Procedural Justice Experiment in Milwaukee

Improving Courtroom Communication: A Procedural Justice Experiment in Milwaukee

By Erin Farley, Elise Jensen and Michael Rempel

This is an evaluation of a pilot project at the Milwaukee County Criminal Court intended to enhance defendant perceptions of procedural justice by improving the oral, written, and nonverbal communication used by judges. Courtroom observations measured an increase in the use of 14 practices inculding eye contact with defendants and the use of plain English to explain procedures and decisions.

Articles

Improving Courtroom Communication: A National Experiment

Improving Courtroom Communication: A National Experiment

By Emily Gold

With funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Center for Court Innovation and The National Judicial College have launched a national demonstration project that will attempt to improve procedural justice in an urban criminal court setting.

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Publications

Procedural Justice From the Bench: How Judges Can Improve the Effectiveness of Criminal Courts

Procedural Justice From the Bench: How Judges Can Improve the Effectiveness of Criminal Courts

By Greg Berman and Emily Gold

This essay from The Judges' Journal seeks to articulate lessons from drug courts that are applicable in all criminal courts. It includes concrete recommendations for judges on improving courtroom communication.

Interviews

Kevin Burke, District Judge, Hennepin County, Minnesota

Kevin Burke, District Judge, Hennepin County, Minnesota

Kevin Burke helped lead the effort to create the Hennepin County Drug Court and advocated for the creation of the Hennepin County Mental Health Court as well. Here he talks about the success of these courts, and how Hennepin County has made efforts to institutionalize problem solving in its court system.

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Interviews

Tom Tyler PhD, Professor, Yale University

Tom Tyler PhD, Professor, Yale University

Tom Tyler, a professor at Yale University and leading advocate of procedural justice, talks about recent research on the topic, as well as the challenges and opportunities for procedural justice practices to be institutionalized system-wide.

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Publications

The New York State Residents Survey: Public Perceptions of New York's Courts

The New York State Residents Survey: Public Perceptions of New York's Courts

By Donald J. Farole, Jr.

This study reports the results of a survey of 1,002 adult residents of New York State concerning their perceptions of the courts. The study found that New Yorkers have high levels of trust and confidence in the courts in general, although racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African-Americans, are far less supportive than are whites. The study also determined that most New Yorkers have little knowledge of how their local courts work.

Articles

Judges Matter: How Courts Reduce Crime and Save Money

Judges Matter: How Courts Reduce Crime and Save Money

By Greg Berman and Michael Rempel

This op-ed from the New York Law Journal reports findings from a drug court study that suggests the success of drug courts stems largely from the judge.

Most Popular Research

Video

Why Procedural Justice Matters: Tom R. Tyler at Community Justice 2012

Publications

Evidence-Based Strategies for Working with Offenders

Evidence-Based Strategies for Working with Offenders

By Michael Rempel

This fact sheet distills a growing body of research about evidence-based strategies in five areas for reducing recidivism among criminal offenders: assessment, treatment, deterrence, procedural justice, and collaboration.

Publications

Procedural Fairness in California: Initiatives, Challenges, and Recommendations

Procedural Fairness in California: Initiatives, Challenges, and Recommendations

By Rachel Porter

This report, commissioned by the Administrative Office of the Courts in California, describes initiatives in California's civil and traffic courts to improve procedural fairness. The report also contains a brief self-assessment tool that court administrators can use to examine procedural fairness in their local jurisdictions.

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