Justice Index 2016 Findings
Follow the links below to see our findings in Justice Index 2016’s four subject matter indexes and the aggregated Composite Index. You can also download data documents from this page and read more about how we made our findings and what they mean.
The Composite Index
The Four Subject Matter Indexes
A. Attorney Access: Number of Attorneys for People in Poverty
B. Self-Representation Access: Support for People Without Lawyers
C. Language Access: Support for People With Limited English Proficiency (LEP)
D. Disability Access: Support for People With Disabilities
Our Data Workbook contains a spreadsheet for each of the four category indexes. These spreadsheets present the underlying data and findings for each jurisdiction for the Performance Maps and the Best Practices Tables, including our finding for each indicator, the weight accorded to each indicator in our scoring system, and the source or citation we provided for every “Yes” finding and selected “No” findings. Please note that for the categories other than Attorney Access, two identical charts are presented, with the top one displaying the “Yes/No” finding, and bottom presenting the corresponding sources/citations.
This document makes available in .pdf format the set of indicators used in Justice Index 2016. It includes certain additional information about the weights accorded to the indicators, and the “trends” reported by the Justice Index with respect to the number of jurisdictions that have adopted the underlying policies that are tracked in the indicators. Explore the Findings and Methodology pages on this site to learn more about the weighting methodology and about the trends in adoption of best practices for providing access to justice.
In response to FAQ #20, We have identified certain indicators that we believe would benefit from further information as to the question asked and/or standard applied. Because this information is too lengthy to include with the indicators on the Findings pages, we compiled it into one document, the downloadable Annotated Indicator Guide.
Our Process and Standard for Making “Yes” and “No” Findings
For each indicator, state court officials were invited to respond “Yes” if the state had adopted the law or practice on a statewide level, and to provide a source to support the “Yes” response.
As stated on the Questionnaire provided to the states (see General Methodology), the default source required for a “Yes” finding was “a statewide statute, rule, regulation, appropriation, or other written guidance.” We made exceptions to the documentation requirement for certain indicators where written sources were less likely to be available, such as training questions or questions about employees or offices designated to perform specific tasks. For these indicators, we generally considered a source sufficient if it (i) identified the court official who oversees the practice or oversaw the training; (ii) includes the official’s contact information; and (iii) includes some level of specific background information, such as when the training was held or what authority designated the employee or office to perform the specific task.
NCAJ conducted several rounds of quality assurance review in which we provided our state correspondents with opportunities to change or supplement sources to establish that the state had adopted the practice in question. We requested written, public sources where available, explaining that in most cases they would be required a for a “Yes” finding. If NCAJ determined that a source established the presence of the statewide practice or law, a “Yes” finding was made. All final “Yes” findings receive the full number of points allocated to that indicator based on the Justice Index weighting system.
If a state did not respond “Yes” for an indicator, or if a state responded “Yes” but did not provide sources that were found to be sufficient during our quality review process, a “No” finding was made. It is important to note that a “No” finding means only that a “Yes” finding was not established; it does not mean that NCAJ has affirmative support for a finding that the state has not adopted the subject law or practice. Nor does it mean that the state is not, in actuality, currently carrying out the practice in some form or in some place – as stated above, most “Yes” findings required written citations; we generally considered unwritten policies insufficient. Our reason for this is because, if a practice can be stopped at any time without the notice and public attention that comes from having to first amend a written document, then it is not a best practice. In recent years, budget cuts have resulted in at times drastic reductions in court services, and it is the services based on informal, unwritten policies that are likely the first to go. Changes in justice system administration, or in administration outside the justice system, may also put certain unwritten policies in jeopardy. For these reasons, we believe that requiring written sources for practices promotes accountability, predictability, and fair notice.
Addition of the “No*” Finding to Justice Index 2016
In addition to the “Yes” and “No” findings in the Best Practices tables, this year we added “No*” findings that carry an asterisk (“*”). The asterisk denotes that we have included sources, citations, or other information that we believe will be of potential interest to Justice Index visitors because these materials illuminate what the state is doing that is relevant to the specific indicator, even though the practice itself, or the supporting documentation, was not sufficient to establish a “Yes” finding. Several “No*” findings were made for made for the type of unwritten policies referenced above, i.e., for indicators where a state official explained the practice, but did not point to a written source authorizing, requiring, or encouraging the practice. To maximize the information provided in the Justice Index and to maintain transparency, we have attempted to include all substantive citations and comments provided by the states despite our negative finding on that indicator.
To maximize the information provided in the Justice Index and to maintain transparency, we have attempted to include all substantive citations and comments provided by the states despite our negative finding on that indicator.