South Carolina Lawyer
Vol. 12, No. 5, Pg. 32.
DCM: Bringing Order Chaos
32DCM: Bringing Order ChaosBy Tommy Pope and Kevin BrackettIn its simplest form, Differentiated Case Management (DCM) recognizes that all cases are not alike and that they vary in their level of complexity and the degree of resources required for disposition. DCM avoids addressing cases based strictly on date of arrest, but rather provides for different procedural steps and deadlines reflecting the nature of the case.
All DCM projects vary, but all share these basic characteristics: early case evaluation; multiple tracks based on the complexity of a given case; and continuous monitoring of the case as it moves through the system.
DCM attempts to adjust the time between critical events to no longer than needed to properly prepare and dispose of the case. But it also strives to make sure that each of these events provides some meaningful function within the system.
DCM IN THE 16TH CIRCUIT
On July 1, 1994, the Sixteenth Circuit began a grant-funded project to implement DCM in York County. Initially the program focused exclusively on the backlog of narcotics cases. During the same time period a local drug analysis lab was established to aid in the speedy disposition of those cases. Based on the initial success, DCM was ultimately expanded to the entire docket excluding homicide cases.
DCM in the Sixteenth Circuit operates under an Administrative Order issued by the Chief Administrative Judge pursuant to direct authority granted by the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. It has been instituted without the need for legislative enactment or changes to the Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Order addresses procedure concerning bond hearings, initial appearances, preliminary hearings and General Sessions Court practice.
The primary objective of this system is to dispose of administrative issues early so that actual court weeks are spent taking legitimate action on the pending cases. To this end, progress on the case begins the day the defendant is arrested. As early as the bond hearing the magistrate or municipal judge addresses attorney representation issues and screens the defendant to determine if he or she is eligible for appointment of counsel. At that time the judge also formally notifies the defendant of future required court...