JUDICIAL EXCELLENCE IN CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT PROCEEDINGS - ABA Standards

In 2010 the ABA and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges formally approved a set of standards on judicial excellence in child abuse and neglect cases. These standards do address the need for time-specific calendaring of hearings.

The official name of the standards is:

JUDICIAL EXCELLENCE IN CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT PROCEEDINGS: PRINCIPLES AND STANDARDS FOR COURT ORGANIZATION, JUDICIAL SELECTION AND ASSIGNMENT, JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION AND JUDICIAL EDUCATION. (Click the link to view the PDF.)

The relevant portion of the standards is as follows:

Standard C.9 – Court leaders should establish and implement effective caseflow management to reduce court delays, taking into account problems unique to child abuse and neglect cases. 

Commentary 

Effective judicial control of court delays not only requires skill and sufficient numbers of judges and staff, but also the application of accepted principles of judicial caseflow management. The basic elements of effective caseflow management are the same regardless of case type. These elements include: 

      Timely scheduling of court hearings. 

  • Courts rather than lawyers should be responsible for the scheduling of hearings. Attorneys may be busy, place low priority on child abuse and neglect cases, or have tactical reasons to support delays. Among other things, judges should schedule the next court date at the conclusion of each hearing. Judges should set and enforce strict policies governing requests for continuances, as discussed below in further detail. 

      Time-certain hearings. 

  • Time certain hearings – hearings scheduled for specific times of day rather than within larger blocks of time – make it easier and more convenient for parties, witnesses, and attorneys to be present in court. Parties and witnesses who do not appear in court are a key cause for delays and their absence also degrades the quality of the court process.