There's an old joke among engineers: Faster, better, cheaper - pick two.
That's the core of the crisis that's facing B.C.'s justice system, which is caught between interminable delays, constitutional imperatives and a cashstrapped provincial government.
Speeding the process from arrest to verdict is an urgent need. Thousands of cases have languished for more than a year before coming to trial, and it's only a matter of time before a violent criminal walks free because of an unreasonable delay.
Just wait until the new federal sentencing policies kick in. Premier Christy Clark, like any politician, likes to believe that if we only look hard enough for efficiencies, things can get better without getting any more expensive.
Courts can be run better, but only by so much. Encouraging people to settle their civil matters outside of the courts is a laudable goal, as is an overhaul of our family law system.
The "megatrials" of gang members can probably be better managed as well. But in the great majority of criminal cases you run into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms before you find any useful savings. This isn't a bad thing.
We need more judges. We need more prosecutors. We need more sheriffs. We've known all of this for years. Studies won't change the hard truth that this costs a lot of money.
We still shake our heads at the gratuitous populism that drives Clark's desire for televising the trials of Stanley Cup rioters, but we'll give her the benefit of the doubt until July when we'll see just how serious the premier is in dealing with B.C.'s court crisis.