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Observations on Factors Relating to Handling of Criminal Cases - The Court Observer Project

NCJ Number
Date Published
88 pages
This report describes the Hawaii Crime Commission's implementation of a court observer program in Oahu, Hawaii, from late 1978 to 1979.
The program objectives were to collect and evaluate data on factors affecting the quality and efficiency of the judicial process, to educate the public regarding the judicial process, and to identify areas that could be the focus of future courtwatching programs. In addition, to supplement data obtained from the court observers were recruited, instructed, and examined on the basic principles of Hawaii's judicial system, key concepts in criminal law and proceedings, courtwatching techniques and methods, and the mechanics of data collection. The observation period lasted 2 months; the data were tabulated by computer. The study's next phase involved surveying participants and interviewing selected circuit court personnel. Results of the court monitoring, survey, and interviews cover courtroom audibility, comprehensibility, continuances, recesses, and delays. Recommendations are offered for each of these areas. General recommendations made by the professionals interviewed include improving the scheduling of cases, providing better court facilities, and educating the public on the operation and function of the judicial system to maintain public respect for the judicial process. Most court observers and participating court monitors and professionals perceived the court obesrver program to be beneficial both to the public and to the judicial system. Figures and footnotes are included. Survey forms and observer questionnaires are appended. (Author abstract modified)


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