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The Washington City Paper cover story about the management of the District of Columbia courts (“Courting Disaster,” 10/1) misses the point: The courts effectively fulfill their mission, as outlined in their mission statement, “to be a service-oriented organization that provides efficient, impartial and accessible resolution of disputes and other legal actions.” The courts have won several local, state, and national awards and citations for high-quality programs and services and innovative case-management procedures.
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The Superior Court has learned to process cases faster and smarter as budgets have become leaner over the years. The Superior Court has established specialized courts and innovative initiatives and programs in order to effectively address such social problems as drug abuse and the attendant phenomena of domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. These initiatives include the Adult and Juvenile Drug Courts and the Domestic Violence Unit; the Superior Court Urban Services Program for nonviolent youthful offenders, which comprises a boot camp, individual and family counseling, employment readiness training, and education assistance programs; and the WKAY-100 Life Management and Leadership Development Program, a partnership between the court, the Anthony Bowen YMCA, the Coalition of 100 Black Women of Washington, D.C., and the Washington, D.C., graduate chapters of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and the Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta sororities. WKAY-100 trains adult mentors as nurturers and role models for abused and neglected boys and girls under court supervision. These specialized courts and initiatives have made a difference in the lives of many District of Columbia citizens.
The Superior Court has developed model case-management strategies, such as the Civil Delay Reduction program, which is studied by judges and attorneys from all over the country and the world. The Superior Court has disposed of cases at the same rate or better as cases are filed, thus affording swift and efficient justice for District residents. The Superior Court has streamlined the handling of domestic violence cases; resolved numerous civil cases by alternative methods like mediation and arbitration; worked to decrease recidivism through diversion programs; and worked to redirect troubled youth through mentoring programs, education programs, and efforts to treat the family as a unit. None of this could have been accomplished without the sincere dedication, deep commitment, and hard work of D.C. courts employees.
On average, 2 million people annually come to the District of Columbia courts to resolve civil and criminal matters. The facts as outlined above indicate a court system that is far from teetering on the brink of collapse. The proof is supplied by the residents of the District of Columbia, who continually demonstrate their faith and confidence in the courts’ ability to administer justice.
Clerk of the Court
Superior Court of the District of Columbia