Máximo Langer and Joseph W. Doherty at UCLA have just posted Managerial Judging, Court’s Limited Information and Parties’ Resistance: An Empirical Assessment of Why the Reforms to Expedite Procedure of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Did Not Work. It’s an excellent piece and a rare example of empirical work in international criminal law. Its findings show the valuable contributions that empirical studies could make to the field.
Langer and Doherty examine whether procedural reforms at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which were introduced to expedite the tribunal’s proceedings, were in fact successful. The study finds that these so-called “managerial judging” reforms-e.g., introducing pretrial judges, mandating pretrial conferences, asking the parties to exchange information about their cases earlier in the process, encouraging them to reach agreements on facts and legal issues, and reducing the number of witnesses-failed to accomplish their intended purposes. In fact, many of these reforms lengthened the proceedings.
The study controlled for a number of variables that could explain the result (e.g., specific case characteristics, court capacity, and guilty pleas). So why might the reforms have failed? The main reason seems to be that the new managerial tools were not used frequently enough. Moreover, the tools that were used added procedural steps that took up time, without reducing other procedures to make up for the added time.