DeLuca, of Alexandria, is a Virginia lawyer.
While often treated as sacrosanct, the judiciary is part of government. And while constitutionally provided for, it is not as the exclusive vehicle of justice. So, why the bypass? Because here's the clunker we have now:
There's the avoidance canon, where judges either don't decide or rule on a ground that really doesn't resolve anything, disposing of matters to get them off their desks, abrogating the reason parties, their customers, come to the tribunal in the first place.
Another major problem, at all levels, is law-clerk justice. Just out of school, a bunch of mostly 25-year-olds in training, green as granny apples, making impactful decisions that their bosses blindly sign off on. As these rulings travel up the system, they are routinely rubber-stamped by more apprentices, who cover their peers' tracks in this self-interest network where everyone's paving the way for their next career move.
There's also judicial black ice, shortcut justice that borrows from the marking system in the world of figure skating, the winning pecking order dependent on incestuous familiarity and number of appearances rather than the merits of a case.
So what's Virginia to do? Why not privatize the courts? Portions of their functions already are -- for example, through the increased use of mediation. In many instances, a judge's signature is little more than a rubber stamp of an out-of-court compromise or one party's position. With more and more legal issues being resolved the DIY way, there is less need for the traditional role of the judiciary or for the pricey courthouses that garage them.
Or courts could become self- funded and/or the public option in a hybrid system, forced to up the quality of their product to maintain traffic, on the theory no one will pay for a lousy, accelerated job. This would mean parking the best, most experienced personnel in the lower courts, where statistics show decision-making below is determinative. A system should be instituted tantamount to student evaluation of professors at the end of a semester, letting those directly impacted exercise a public option and have input into who makes the grade.
Better yet, the entire taxpaying public should get to vote. Such positioning would also eliminate the need for some of the vast appellate bureaucracy if litigants were satisfied below, more potential budget savings. In addition, these justices should be routinely rotated like tires to avoid becoming too cozy in their communities and professional backslapping cliques.
To pave the way for new roads and rail in a Virginia that is running on fumes, everything needs to be on the next governor's GPS. That includes Virginia's side street and back alley courts.