We do not agree with Orleans Public Defenders Chief of Trials Daniel Engelberg’s commentary that characterizes the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s focus on judicial efficiency as misguided. Rather, we believe our judicial accountability reports serve a valuable public purpose in bringing transparency and accountability to perhaps the least scrutinized and most poorly understood component of the criminal justice system. The MCC applies nationally recognized objective performance metrics to promote judicial best practices and encourage the court to remain current and effective in the management of felony criminal cases. In fact, a National Center for State Courts report commissioned by the judiciary of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in 2011 validated that our analysis of judicial eff iciency is, “wholly consistent with the measures that are nationally considered appropriate for trial court performance in criminal matters.” MCC Judicial Accountability reports educate citizens about judicial performance and present the public with rankings of all twelve Criminal District Court judges from the most to least efficient. We believe that ranking judges with their peers working on the same court is fair in light of the court-approved random allotment system that equally distributes the workload. The entire court experiences the same felony case challenges associated with police, prosecutors, and defense counsel. Therefore, deviations from the court’s average time to resolve cases, caseload size, and rate of backlogged cases more than one year old are attributable to the case management practices of the individual judges. Our most recent report commends the court as a whole for doing an outstanding job of remaining current with an increasingly complex docket comprised of higher numbers of felony violent and weapons cases. The report also identified two judges operating well below the performance levels of their peers, which indicates that they too could administer justice more efficiently if they utilized the sound case management practices applied throughout the remainder of the court. Judicial inefficiency causes unnecessary delays, which adversely affect victims, witnesses, and the innocent accused who must excessively wait to see their cases resolved based solely upon random allotment to underperforming judges. Poorly performing members of the judiciary negatively impact police, prosecutors, and public defenders, because a glut of older cases increases their workloads with aging criminal matters that would normally have concluded unde r judges applying more effective management practices. Additionally, inefficient judges cause defendants held in jail to spend more time in custody, which increases the inmate population and related taxpayer costs. Administering justice in a timely and fair manner is demanding and requires hard work that has consistently been achieved by the overwhelming majority of judges in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court. The defense bar has not accused any of the efficient judges of denying a defendant due process or being too efficient in the administration of justice. If most of the court can fairly render justice in an efficient manner that is consistent with the laws of Louisiana, then each judge should be held to that same expectation.
president, Metropolitan Crime Commission