Improving Efficiency in the Courts to Better Serve Citizens

Monday, September 30, 2019
I have more time to focus on complex cases and the overall quality of our work - Judge Milena Djeric.
Ardian Kurtolli, USAID

Milena Djeric, a judge with the Court of Appeals, beamed with pride and satisfaction when describing the new case-screening initiative.  The Appellate Court in Kosovo had been struggling to manage the growing volume of cases.  That is now finally changing since USAID launched the new case-screening initiative in April 2019.  During the five months since its inception, the appeal courts screened over 1,200 cases and completed 200 procedural cases.

 “Thanks to this initiative, my colleagues and I have more time to focus on complex cases and the overall quality of our work,” says Judge Djeric.

The new case screening allows law clerks to screen appeals and differentiate between procedural claims that can be resolved quickly and more complex, labor-intensive, merit-based claims.  The clerks then draft verdicts for the routine procedural appeals, so they can be reviewed and approved by partnering judges.  As a result, the case-clearance rate at the Appellate Court has improved by 36 percent.  Procedural appeals no longer clog the docket and judges can devote more time to resolving merit-based claims. 

Judge Djeric says the initiative has been instrumental in reducing case backlog.  “Very often citizens are submitting appeals for procedural reasons,” she noted.  “So in order to not have them wait for two or three years, procedural cases are now being worked on as they arrive.”

Judges are not the only ones who have noticed an increase in efficiency, thanks to the screening initiative.  Kushtrim Palushi, a Pristina lawyer, and his client also benefitted from the expediency.  He was pleasantly surprised when he recently received a decision on a labor dispute appeal within four months.  “I was basically preparing the client to wait for a year.  It was a good surprise, and I couldn’t wait to tell her because it happened so fast.  She was very happy.”  He added, “I have had similar cases that lasted for more than a year or two years.”

Based on the success of the initiative, Kosovo’s Judicial Council is considering instituting case-screening practices in all basic courts.

The USAID Justice System Strengthening Program works to advance rule of law in Kosovo by helping ensure that the justice system operates in a professional, efficient, and accountable manner.

Last updated: September 30, 2019

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