Procedural Fairness in the California Courts is a statewide initiative aimed at ensuring fair process for and quality treatment of court users, resulting in higher trust and confidence in California's courts.
(May 2011), prepared by the Center for Court Innovation, describes initiatives under way in California's civil and traffic courts and recommends ways to enhance and improve public perceptions of procedural fairness. The report also contains a brief self-assessment tool that court administrators can use to examine procedural fairness in their local jurisdictions.
The report is divided into four sections:
Procedural Fairness throughout the Courthouse: From the moment that court users access a website or enter a courthouse building to the moment they depart at the conclusion of a case, there are dozens of opportunities to signal that the justice system is capable of delivering fair and impartial justice. Report recommendations focus on improved access to the courts, interaction between court staff and the public, helping the public understand court proceedings, and ensuring individual voice in the courtroom.
Key Venues: Traffic, Small Claims, Family and Juvenile Cases: The three case types of interest in this section are the ones in which litigants are frequently self-represented and in which the volume of cases in California is overwhelming. Report recommendations focus on flexibility in calendaring, as well as providing court users with plain English explanations and educational tools to help them understand what happens in court.
Key Users: Self-Represented, Limited English, and Culturally Diverse: Whether represented by an attorney or not, court users come to courthouses because they have a problem that they cannot resolve on their own. California is the most diverse state in the nation, and has the largest Limited English Proficiency (LEP) population. Report recommendations highlight successful California programs like JusticeCorps, which assists self-represented litigants, and other means to enhance trust and confidence with diverse members of the public.
Assessing Procedural Fairness: To help court administrators examine procedural fairness in their own courts, this final section provides a brief assessment tool. Every court has strengths that it can build upon to enhance court user’s perceptions of procedural fairness.