On-Time Processing Measure
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The on-time processing measure relates to the court's expeditious and timely processing of cases. It measures the percentage of cases that are disposed within a certain number days. The number of days for each type of case are derived from guidelines issued by the N.C. Supreme Court in 1996. For example, for a Superior Court felony case, the guideline may be to dispose of 50% of the cases within 120 days, 75% within 180 days, 90% within 365 days, and 100% with 545 days (one and one-half years). This measure tracks progress toward meeting these goals. The measure takes into account each of the guidelines; an example of how this measure is calculated is given below.

The specific time guidelines for case processing are different for each case type, because different case types need different amounts of time. For example, it takes more time to dispose of the average felony than the average traffic case. For a list of specific time guidelines click here.

100% on-time processing is not realistic as a practical matter, or a fair measure of justice considering the unusual cases that need more time. There will always be some cases that take longer to dispose of than the times in the guidelines, for a variety of reasons. Some cases are unusually complex and need more time. More time can be needed for unavoidable human reasons (a plaintiff or defendant may be ill or in military service), or because a settlement or deferred prosecution plan is being given a chance to work while the case remains pending. However, if over time this measure is consistently low, and after implementing administrative and other improvements in case processing consistent with the full and fair administration of justice (so that litigants are afforded their full and fair day in court), the need for more court resources is indicated.


Of all the measures in the CPMS, on-time case processing is the most complicated calculation, because the guidelines for each type of case have not just one goal, but several. This measure is a composite of the performance on each of the goals. The reason for this is that no one goal gives a full and fair picture of performance for the goals as a whole. For example, a court may dispose of 100% of the non-capital felony cases within 545 days, which looks very good. However, if the court disposed of only 1% of the cases within 120 days, this would not truly be meeting the guidelines. The guidelines assume that some cases are not extremely complicated, and should be disposed of in less than 545 days. If one goal in the guidelines suggests that 50% be disposed of within 120 days, and the court disposed of only 1%, then the overall measure should reflect that performance, even if by the time 545 days rolled around, the court had disposed of 100% of the cases. The composite measure attempts to avoid the creation of an incentive to favor one goal over another (such as, perhaps, not concentrating on case disposition for the first 120 days, because the measure does not consider performance, or report data, until 545 days).

The composite measure takes all of the goals in the overall guideline into account. In the following hypothetical example (see table below):


(1) The first goal in the guideline for superior court felonies is to dispose of 50% of the cases within 120 days. The court disposed of 489 out of 1,000 total disposed cases within that time, or 48.9%. That 48.9% is 97.8% of the goal (of 50%), so for the first goal, the court's measure was 97.8%.


(2) The second goal is to dispose of 75% within 180 days. By 180 days, the court had disposed of 275 more cases, for a cumulative total of 764 cases, or 76.4% of all 1,000 cases. That 76.4% is 101.9% of the goal (of 75%), so for the second goal, the court's measure was 101.9% (the court exceeded this goal). This process is repeated for each goal (in the example below there are four goals in the overall guideline), and the overall measure is the average of the percentages for each of the four goals -- 98.7%.

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  cumulative totals  
guideline # of days # disposed # of days total disposed % of total disposed % of guideline met
  50% within 120 days   0 to 120 489 0 to 120 489 48.9% 97.8%
  75% within 180 days   121 to 180 275 0 to 180 764 76.4% 101.9%
  90% within 365 days   181 to 365 115 0 to 365 879 87.9% 97.7%
100% within 545 days   366 to 545 95 0 to 545 974 97.4% 97.4%
over 545 days     26 0 to ... 1,000 100.0% Average
total disposed (100%)     1,000       98.7%