Delayed justice

In-Depth Analysis of Delayed Justice Delivery

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The “cliched” phrase equating delays in justice with complete denial of the same finds its reasoning in the injuries sustained by litigants as a result of undue delays in the course of adjudication. Crime is often said to be partly condoned when justice is postponed. The hurdles in expeditious resolution of cases can have far-reaching consequences upon the national justice system of a country, and the public confidence enjoyed by the nation’s judiciary. In order to observe, effectuate and uphold the rule of law, strong penal statutory provisions have to be accompanied by strict and dynamic administrative force, which ensures implementation of these regulatory obligations and prohibitions, which forms the very foundations of a just society.

Having recognized the significant weight of this issue, it is even observed that the delayed justice case is a controversy often unnecessarily raised and dragged by people looking to benefit from it politically. Such obstacles, as well as the judicial system are unduly criticized by people who will hypocritically make use of these delay-tactics when called as Defendants in the cases.

Delayed Justice in the US

Delays in the deliverance of justice are a global problem, faced by almost all legal jurisdictions in the world, while adequately addressed by only a small proportion of them. Even in the US, the existing backlog of both civil and criminal cases calls for the earnest address which this matter deserves, and has thus attracted the introduction of a right to speedy trials and the operation of the same through the Sixth Amendment and the Speedy Trial Act.

Impacts upon the Judiciary and the Governmental Machinery

Casual delays caused in the ordinary course of adjudication can have devastating impacts upon the entire judicial system of the country. Failure to serve timely justice is followed by diminishing public confidence in the justice system. As a result, the law slowly fails to carry respect for itself and retain its authoritarian stature for longer. The public would be compelled to seek resolution of disputes outside the court, which at many times cannot effectively make up for the wrongs suffered by a party weaker in position than the other. Law is taken into the hands, and unauthorized violence is often resorted to so as to satisfy egos of the powerful. It has been seen that apart from the judiciary losing its position, the ruling government’s performance is often subject to questioning from public platforms, disregarding all of its other beneficial policies, and leading the public into dismissing its credibility. Fleets of highly qualified prosecutors can never be reaped for their benefits if the justice system inherently incorporates delays into the very core of its functioning.

Causes of Delays in the Judicial Framework

Excessive delays in the procedure it takes to obtain justice is a collective failure of almost all the functions of a typical state. Many delays are attributed to lawyers; some can be connected with judges; others may be caused due to litigants themselves, while the rest owe their liability to the elected representatives. Unequal contributions from each of these parties come together to aggravate further the messed statistics representing backlog in the courts of all hierarchies. However, it should be remembered that the peculiar reasons for such delays are unique to all the different countries of the world and may even differ from state to state within the US.

Lawyers’ & Litigants’ Caused Delays

The customary practice of taking adjournments, a habit typical to a large chunk of professionals from the lawyers’ fraternity, is a significant issue causing an ever-increasing backlog of cases pending. Even if not done singlehandedly, attorneys with the complete cooperation of their clients seek to delay matters continually from date to date by making absences in the evidence stage or for cross-examinations to frustrate the other party and impede the cause of justice. Other than that, the accused often tend to linger matters for several ulterior motives. One such purpose may be to let enough time pass post-commission of the offense so that the zeal of prosecution loses its place and gets diluted. It also helps the perpetrator to raise otherwise frail self-defense. If the offender succeeds in delaying the matter to the extent of frustrating the complainant and exhausting his resources, he secures a sufficiently strong position to negotiate the other party into settling to his terms.

The Legislature & Executive’s Role in Causing Delays

The scarcity of courts and inadequacy of administrative machinery available for adjudication is somewhat similar in almost all countries facing the backlog dilemma. The executive branch of the state is often aware of the issues faced by the courts in the exercise of their functions. Also, it has the resources to address the same, but tacit reluctance to take action has always been hinted from the executive’s conduct in this regard. Such inaction to intervene and streamline the administrative functions of courts somewhere indicates that the delay culture in courts lies within the interests of the other two branches of the state.

Possible Solutions

Willingness to improve the stats of pending cases, including policies to increase the number of courts and tribunals empowered to hear cases can increase the number of cases being dealt with at once and make a substantial impact. The legislature has the power to create newer courts, some with specialized functions to define dedicated forums which will address matters expeditiously. Increase in remuneration of judges also lies within the legislature’s powers, which may encourage top-grade and accomplished practitioners to become judges and settle cases appropriately owing to their legal acumen and understanding. 

The executive branch should work to provide the courts with technological machinery for rapid adjudication, including remote-proceeding facilities and case flow management systems.

Moreover, arbitration finally stands as the ultimate resort to preclude a substantial number of potential cases from burdening the justice system even more. Being an ideal alternate dispute resolution method, arbitration can be a perfect choice in matters which do not require directions to third parties or public bodies to resolve the issue. Where orders about monetary compensations or specific performance from any of the parties are required to be obtained, arbitration can turn out to be a wise choice.

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