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Jury Trials and Plea Bargaining

Some of these issues have been addressed through a variety of initiatives but the perception still persists that a judicial system that is skewed towards the mighty, the rich and the influential have a built-in bias against the poor litigants and other members belonging to the lower strata of society. The view is that justice is not blind, instead, there is a tiered or layered dispensation of justice which favors the elite of this country and disregards the rights of the common poor people. As they say, justice delayed is justice denied, as the rich can exploit the loopholes in the system, hire the best lawyers and use all the means and devices to delay a trial by numerous postponements and appeals. This is the prevailing view today, which requires government action to remedy this bad situation in order to improve the administration of justice and restore the people’s faith in the system. Discussion Court administration falls under the rubric of public administration and many people do try to improve its efficiency through various reforms and initiatives. Judges and the other court personnel, both at the trial and appellate tribunals, try hard to find new ways to process the cases more speedily through more efficient use of both judicial time and court facilities to avoid the so-called litigation crisis increasingly seen today and experienced by litigants (Swanson Talarico, 1987, p. 40) which should translate to a smoother functioning and avoid these costly delays. The judicial administration has previously persistently resisted attempts at reforms due to a prevailing view that judicial independence is paramount regardless of however it works with the other government agencies, mainly the police, in the administration of justice. Its independence is a stumbling block at introducing reforms because any attempt to do so is interpreted or easily misunderstood as undue interference in the so-called separation of powers doctrine, it being the co-equal branch of the other two branches of government, the executive and the legislative. This view has slowly changed over the years, as there is now an increasing realization that the sheer number of cases, both civil and criminal, have swamped the courts. This has necessitated a good number of initiatives which shifted the focus from adjudicative to administrative justice. De-clogging the courts – one good way to clear the courts is to prevent many less serious cases from even reaching the formal court system by dealing with it as early as possible while it is still in the pretrial stage. This is achieved by a number of ways like diversionary schemes, arbitration, mediation, plea bargaining and administrative penalties in an assembly-line manner which is utilitarian in nature, as contrasted to the previous rights-based theories of justice like the human rights and due process issues which are both inefficient, prone to delays and expensive (King, 2009, p. 186) because of economic considerations which trumped social considerations due to chronic budget deficits and other fiscal constraints today. Many of the rights of the accused are seen to be causing excessive delays, like the right to be presumed innocent, right to an attorney, right to remain silent, right to post bail and the right to file an appeal.