The first change is that mandatory trial confirmation hearings have been eliminated. Generally, these hearings were held after the accused entered a not guilty plea to make sure that both parties were prepared for trial. Hearings are now optional and will only be scheduled if necessary. As noted by the Elan post, this means lawyers will no longer have to prepare trial readiness reports and arraignment reports.
The second change is that the first appearance and the arraignment hearing may be heard by a judicial case manager instead of a justice of the peace or a judge. This expands the authority of judicial case managers but also cuts down on wait times for an available justice of the peace or judge.
Both of these changes are meant to speed up the court process by moving simple matters from first appearance to arraignment within 60 days; more complex matters within 90 days. ELAN anticipates that “more changes are in the works for 2014, which will help cut down on wasted court time.”