REPORT TO CONGRESS ON THE FY 2003 EXPENDITURE

OF FUNDS FOR JUDGES AND PROSECUTORS


Introduction

In FY 2003, Congress provided special funding for judges and prosecutors through the U. S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) appropriation (See Conference Report to the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003 (House Report 108-10) and the Senate Report on the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2003 (Senate Report 107-224), requesting that NHTSA provide $1.5 million for judicial and prosecutorial actions to combat alcohol-impaired driving.

Congressional Direction

In report language, two specific statements were made:

Background

In cooperation with the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), NHTSA convened the Criminal Justice Summit on Impaired Driving in Washington, DC, in November 2002. The mission of the Summit was to identify the gaps, problems and challenges in the criminal justice system in the handling of impaired drivers. The Department of Justice (DOJ), represented by the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), was an integral participant in this Summit. BJA is NHTSA’s counterpart within DOJ on matters and issues relating to impaired driving. NCJA is a nonprofit organization representing the States and criminal justice community on crime control and public safety issues.

The recommendations of this summit are set forth in the attached Criminal Justice Summit Report. These recommendations provide specific direction in the areas addressed by the congressional directive to NHTSA.

Identify Strategies for Reducing Obstacles to Obtaining Impaired Driving Convictions and Applying Sanctions in a Consistent Manner

NHTSA, in collaboration with BJA, supports the following strategies and recommendations for obtaining impaired driving convictions and applying sanctions in a consistent manner, as identified in the Criminal Justice Summit report:

In addition, NHTSA will be working with BJA on implementing DWI Courts in those communities who wish to start a DWI Court or enhance their existing Drug Court by adding a DWI component.

Other initiatives include NHTSA’s support of a Youth Court initiative with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. This includes the addition of traffic safety components to the Youth Courts. All of NHTSA’s initiatives with judges and prosecutors are included as an attachment to this report.

Emphasize Strategies to Reduce Plea Bargaining, Diversion, or Deferral Programs

NHTSA has been working with prosecutors and courts to address plea bargaining (negotiation), diversion and deferral programs through training and education. One strategy has been to educate the prosecutors and courts on principles of impaired driving and the need to make an arrest for an alcohol-related offense a part of the offender’s permanent record. Documenting alcohol-related arrests prevents the subject from being treated repeatedly as a first offender.

NHTSA supports the Criminal Justice Summit recommendations to reduce the use by judges and prosecutors of plea negotiation, diversion or deferral. Specific recommendations include:

Additional recommendations are explored in more detail in the attached Summit Final Report.

NHTSA FY 2004 Plans for Judicial and Prosecutorial Initiatives

For FY 2004, NHTSA will implement the recommendations from the Criminal Justice Summit and provide funding for judicial and prosecutor training through current partners. NHTSA has identified two focused countermeasure priorities to be addressed during the next two years for the courts and prosecutors.

The two countermeasures identified as a focus for adjudicatory improvements are: (1) establishing special prosecutors for DWI cases, and (2) establishing DWI Courts for repeat offenders using the well-tested drug court model. As noted below, we will continue to promote Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutors at the State level and encourage the States to work with their local prosecutor in jurisdictions with high alcohol-related fatality rates and numbers. NHTSA will work with the National Drug Court Initiative to promote and implement DWI Courts at the local level, based on regional and State DWI Court meetings scheduled for late 2003 and early 2004.

NHTSA is encouraging our judicial and prosecutor partners to work with the States to address educational needs. We will promote Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutors in each State to create an infrastructure to institutionalize training programs, using the best practices from the current 12 States that have such a position. Through the American Prosecutors Research Institute-National Traffic Law Center, a mentoring program with more experienced prosecutors will be developed to assist less experienced prosecutors in understanding the nuances of DWI prosecution.

NHTSA plans to work with the BJA on an ongoing basis to fund additional DWI Courts and develop additional collaborative programs. It is NHTSA’s intent to implement DWI Courts in regions with disproportionately high incidences of impaired driving crashes and fatalities. Implementation of DWI Courts is dependent upon the receptiveness of communities, available resources, and the operation of State law.

Conclusion

NHTSA will continue to support judicial and prosecutorial initiatives in the foreseeable future, as they are parts of the system that contribute significantly to deterring impaired driving violators and reducing the toll of impaired driving crashes and fatalities. FY 2003 funding provided by Congress for this purpose provided the opportunity to begin implementing several of the recommendations of the Criminal Justice Summit on Impaired Driving in an expedited time frame.

NHTSA Initiatives for Judges and Prosecutors

FY 2003 and 2004

Listed below are the current and future initiatives planned with criminal justice system partners. We have listed the Courts/Judiciary initiatives first, followed by the Prosecutor initiatives. A chart indicating the entire funding support for prosecutors and judges has been attached to this report.

Courts/Judiciary Initiatives

Judicial Leadership to Reduce the Incidence of Impaired Driving

This program, which began in 2002, is an integrated plan to promote judicial leadership to reduce crashes involving impaired drivers. The program will increase judicial awareness of the problem and create a “best practices” curriculum. This will be done in three steps: (1) make the leadership of State courts aware of the initiative by making presentations to the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators; (2) encourage awareness through the American Judges Association and National Association for Court Management that serve judges and court administrators; and (3) address the National Association of State Judicial Educators (NASJE) to encourage them to incorporate information on impaired driving into their on-going educational programming. FY 2003 funding was used to develop this as a distance-learning course. This project is a cooperative effort between NHTSA and the National Center for State Courts. Funding to modify this program is $60,000.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Primer (Web-based education for Judges)

Through an agreement with the NASJE, NHTSA is creating web-based educational tools and a resource library of impaired driving information for the judiciary. The education program allows judges to participate on a 24-hour basis, which eliminates the need to leave the bench for a lengthy period of time. It includes a mock Driving Under the Influence (DUI) trial that requires judges to render evidentiary decisions. The resource library of impaired driving information enables judges to reference important information more quickly to assist in making critical trial decisions. This project began in 2002, and a streaming component was added in FY 2003 in the amount of $25,000.

Judicial Outreach Liaison

With an on-going agreement with the American Bar Association-Judicial Division (ABA-JD), NHTSA is providing funding for pilot Judicial Outreach Liaisons (JOL) in three regions. The JOL will work with the NHTSA regional offices and State highway safety offices to further our impaired driving efforts with the judiciary. The ABA-JD will solicit retired (or part-time) judges through the ABA Judges Network to act as resources for regional offices and State highway safety offices in educating judges on impaired driving adjudicatory issues and the impact of impaired driving in the community. This project was funded in the amount of $165,000.

In addition to the JOL, the ABA-JD will also continue to work with NHTSA on judicial outreach through two judicial fellows (the judicial fellows are sitting judges who hear cases in district court or are administrative law judges), continue the Highway to Justice newsletter to judges on traffic safety issues and continued involvement with the Judicial Division. Funding in the amount of $122,291 has been provided for this outreach.

National Judicial College Courses

The Courage to Live program was developed in partnership with the National Judicial College (NJC). The program partners judges and educators with teenagers in an interactive program that provides the young people in attendance with detailed information on the effects of alcohol/drugs on the human body, especially regarding drinking and driving. They are also provided information about the criminal sanctions involved following a conviction for drinking and driving. Participating judges and educators work with the participating youth to empower them and their peers to obey the law and to act responsibly. A guidebook on this curriculum is available through NHTSA. FY 2003 funding was used to present a faculty development course in fall 2003 at the NJC.

At the Criminal Justice Summit on Impaired Driving, it was recommended that minimum standards for the administrative hearing process be established to create judgment options in cases relating to DWI. As a result of this recommendation, the NJC will be developing a course for Administrative Law Judges on traffic safety. The administrative law judges (and hearing officers) preside over driver licensing suspension cases and other cases pertaining to licensing, i.e., older drivers, teenage drivers, etc. Both of these courses will be funded in the amount of $82,000.

The NJC will continue to offer other traffic safety courses already developed with NHTSA funding in the 2003 and 2004 calendar years.

DWI Courts

Using a curriculum developed by the Drug/DWI Court professionals, NHTSA is providing a one-day training course to NHTSA field staff and other State officials, including a State Needs Assessment. The project funding is $100,000.

Youth Courts

Through an Interagency Agreement with the Department of Justice-Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, we are also working on promoting Youth Courts. For FY 2003, several initiatives were scheduled that include: cosponsoring the National Youth conference, mini-grants of $250.00 each to youth courts to focus on impaired driving projects, and the updating of the Peer Justice and Youth Empowerment guide. Youth Courts have been developed to allow peer interaction without the customary family court stigma. In FY 2003, NHTSA provided $50,000 in funding.

Prosecutor Initiatives

Protecting Lives, Saving Futures

Throughout its history, the National Traffic Law Center (NTLC) has served as a resource for NHTSA and the States concerning traffic law. NTLC represents the prosecutor’s interest on various traffic safety issues, including the development of some of the prosecutors training. In addition, the NTLC serves as a conduit for impaired driving information to judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers. Working with the NTLC, NHTSA has developed the Protecting Lives, Saving Futures curriculum that places prosecutors and law enforcement officers from the same locality together in a training setting. This allows for an interaction between the two disciplines to help them understand the issues that they each experience in addressing impaired driving cases. Using FY 2003 funds, the Protecting Lives, Saving Futures course was provided to

10 Impaired Driving Strategic Evaluation States in the amount of $100,000.

Prosecution of Driving Under the Influence

The National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators (NAPC) conducts prosecutor training for a number of States through its membership. The prosecutor coordinators in over 25 States have received NHTSA funding for various training that includes: Prosecution of Driving Under the Influence, Prosecuting the Drugged Driver, Lethal Weapon: DUI Homicide and Prosecutor Faculty Development: Train the Trainer. The Criminal Justice Summit on Impaired Driving recommended that prosecutors increase the number of minimum hours of training regarding DWI prosecution. Prosecution of Driving Under the Influence is the impaired driving introductory course for prosecutors. The NAPC provided this course in 13 Impaired Driving Strategic Evaluation States using $195,000 of FY 2003 funding.

Training

Over a period of time, the judicial and prosecutor efforts have had limited funding resources to draw from when designing new programs or providing immediate stopgap procedures. In order to facilitate immediate needs, NHTSA will contract with the Transportation Safety Institute to provide resources, including training, and travel for impaired driving resource experts on an as-needed basis. Funding from the FY 2003 set aside in the amount of $250,000 was used for this purpose.

Other Initiatives

In addition to the above, NHTSA also funded the following projects that affect courts and prosecutors.

Functional Standards

Through the National Center for State Courts and as a result of the Criminal Justice Summit on Impaired Driving, NHTSA funded a Functional Standards project that will assist the courts nationwide. This project is a partnership between the National Association for Court Management and the Conference of State Court Administrators to develop standards for automated case management systems that will result in improving the inadequate traffic case systems that hamper the ability of the State courts to process and share information effectively with law enforcement and motor vehicle agencies. The cost for this project is $250,000 and came from funds directed to records management in FY 2003.

Judicial Education

Working with the NJC, NHTSA is also funding scholarships for judges who do not have any other monetary means to attend traffic safety courses that are presented through the NJC. For FY 2003 only, funding in the amount of $60,000 was provided. In addition, in FY 2004 the NJC will also host a Sentencing Alternatives Summit for judges from the district, trial and appellate levels. Judges will hear from researchers and their peers as to which sentencing alternatives have worked in impaired driving cases. The cost for the Summit is estimated at $50,000.

Prosecutor Training

The NTLC in addition to the Protecting Lives, Saving Futures curriculum, serves as a clearinghouse for impaired driving information to judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers. NTLC maintains a Brief Bank on impaired driving cases, expert witness information, and publishes Between the Lines and Prior Convictions, which are a newsletter and a prosecutor’s guide to prove out-of-state convictions. Funding in the amount of $490,000 has been designed for this project. This also includes an outreach project to bring together traffic safety resource prosecutors that have been funded by their States to hear the latest research on impaired driving, and meet with NHTSA program personnel and other NHTSA partners on impaired driving technical and legal issues.

The National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators will also be providing five additional training courses over the next year, providing a prosecutor fellow to assist the NHTSA program staff with prosecutor issues, and updating the current prosecutor curricula. Funding for these efforts in FY 2003 was $375,000.

Judicial and Prosecutor Funding

FY 2003


AGREEMENT TITLE


ORGANIZATION

FUNDING AMOUNT

Judicial Leadership to Reduce the Incidence of Impaired Driving

 

National Center for State Courts

$60,000

Functional Standards-

$250,000

On-Line Training for Judges

 

National Association of State Judicial Educators

$25,000

 

Traffic Court Technology Program (Judicial Fellowship Program and Judicial Outreach Liaisons)

American Bar Association-Judicial Division

$287,291

 

Judicial Outreach and Training

National Judicial College

$192,000

 

Development of Courses for Training to Enhance the Prosecution of DWI

National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators

$570,000

American Prosecutors Research Institute – National Traffic Law Center

National District Attorneys Association

$590,000

Drug/DWI Courts

National Drug Court Institute

$100,000

Training/Travel


Transportation Safety Institute

$250,000

Youth Court Intensive Training & Technical Assistance

American Probation and Parole Association w/ OJJDP

$50,000

Total

 

$2,374,291