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Customer Service and the Court System

One of the biggest frustrations faced by anyone involved in the legal process– attorney and client– is the general slowness of the system.

We’ve talked in the past about the overwhelming caseloads dealt with in the system, and how that can adversely  effect the flow of information. It can often be an excruciatingly slow process obtaining records, transcripts, etc., and many people become very frustrated.

“Why is it taking so long?” is a question we hear a lot.

People are used to being able to call a customer service line when addressing issues involved with private businesses. Even if they don’t get the answers they are hoping for, they at least get answers– usually the same day.

This is not the case when dealing with the court system.

There is no customer service department in the legal system.

Judges cannot be forced to sign off on anything any faster than their caseload and schedule allows. The same is true of reporting agencies like, for example, court reporters. They can only prepare and release transcripts within the confines of their schedules and workload.

And believe me, the system is quite busy.

Just in Allegheny County, there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of cases going through the system each week.

Sometimes a delay can be caused by a mistake– a misplaced piece of paperwork, for example– that can throw a wrench in the works, but more often than not, it’s simply a matter of awaiting our turn.

At PKN Law, we endeavor to expedite this process whenever possible, but the fact is, we are as much at the mercy of the system as our clients.

This is especially true at this time of year, when so many people in the system– from Judges on down– are dealing with shorter work weeks and general family issues due to holidays.

In one current case, we have been awaiting a trial transcript that is absolutely necessary in order to proceed with the case. There is simply nothing that can be done until we can review that transcript.

This can be extremely difficult for someone who is sitting in jail, as well as for family members who just want to see their loved ones again.

Clients will often say things like, “I can tell you what happened”, but until we see the Judges ruling, in their own words, there is simply nothing that can be done. We cannot proceed on the word of our client. We have to see the legal language on record for ourselves in order to determine the best course of action in any given situation.

Sometimes it probably seems like we’re stalling, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is in everyone’s best interest that we resolve cases in the most timely manner possible, and we do everything in our power to bring that about.

Unfortunately, there are times when we must simply be patient and wait it out. Bugging someone in the system to move faster can sometimes result in the opposite happening, so it’s important for our client’s well being that we abide by the system, in order that we can best serve them in our ultimate goal to represent them to the best of our ability.

 

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Patrick NightingaleCustomer Service and the Court System