2008-2011 Executive Session for State Court Leaders in the 21st Century

Perspectives on State Court Leadership series

Sustainable Court Governance:  The Critical Role of Strategic Management
by Eric T. Washington and Lisa R. VanDeVeer

In this, the tenth paper in the Perspectives on State Court Leadership series, District of Columbia Chief Judge Eric Washington and Strategic Management Director Lisa VanDeVeer demonstrate the critical role strategic management practices can play in effective court governance. Strategic management offers an alternative way of conducting court business, one that can be implemented in any court or court system irrespective of size, structure, or other attributes. In Sustainable Court Governance: The Critical Role of Strategic Management the application of strategic management in the court context and the resulting benefits are described by drawing upon the District of Columbia Courts' experience over the last decade.

Video interview with DC Chief Judge Eric Washington

Governance: The Final Frontier
by Mary Campbell McQueen

In this paper NCSC President and former Washington State court administrator, Mary McQueen, argues that court leaders should replace their longstanding focus on the model for governing private corporations and executive branch agencies with the more appropriate model offered by what are called “loosely coupled” organizations. In Governance: The Final Frontier McQueen notes that state courts, like public hospitals and universities, provide services requiring extensive and specialized knowledge in a context of decentralized decision making. Consideration of the processes and mechanisms developed by leaders of loosely coupled organizations provides a new direction for achieving effective court governance and delivering public satisfaction. 

An interview with the paper's author, Mary McQueen 

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Maintaining Institutional Independence:  Funding Sustainable State Courts During Economic Crisis
by Paul De Muniz

In this paper former Oregon chief Justice Paul De Muniz argues that providing sustainable funding to the judiciary should be a priority for the legislative and executive branches, as well as the judiciary. Maintaining Institutional Independence:  Funding Sustainable State Courts During Economic Crisis explains that sustainable funding is a level at which the judiciary has both funding sufficient to dispense justice daily and to operate as a separate and equal branch of government able to ensure quality performance and future improvement. Suggestions are offered on how to build the alliances in the legislative budget process and obtain the public support necessary for obtaining and retaining sustainable judicial branch funding.

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Cross-Branch Collaboration:  What Can We Learn from the Collaboration Between Courts and the Division of Youth Services in Missouri?
by Julie Boatright Wilson

In this paper Harvard social policy lecturer Julie Boatright Wilson uses the Missouri juvenile justice system as a case study that highlights strengths and weaknesses associated with collaboration. Wilson, the Harry Kahn Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), is a sociologist whose work focuses on child welfare, juvenile justice, and poverty policy issues. Her recent work examines federal and state child welfare policies on adoption and the role of state agencies in the lives of struggling families. Cross-Branch Collaboration:  What Can We Learn from the Collaboration Between Courts and the Division of Youth Services in Missouri? raises questions and addresses lessons learned from the Missouri experience in an effort to achieve collaboration cross branches in criminal justice matters.

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Keeping Courts Funded: Recommendations on How Courts Can Avoid the Budget Axe
by Greg A. Rowe

In this paper executive branch policy and legislation advisor Greg A. Rowe provides 16 specific recommendations on how judicial branch leaders should interact with members of the state executive and legislative branch over budget issues. Greg Rowe is Chief of the Philadelphia District Attorney Office’s Legislation Unit. Previously, Rowe oversaw Pennsylvania’s public safety functions with regard to policy and legislation as Governor Rendell’s Senior Criminal Justice Policy Manager. In Keeping Courts Funded: Recommendations on How Courts Can Avoid the Budget Axe provides recommendations and advice on how to understand the political environment, develop relationships with key groups and individuals, create a coherent communication strategy, and engage with the other branches during the budget process. As states apply these recommendations to their individual circumstances, a framework for advocacy efforts emerge.

Perspectives in State Court Leadership series

Juror and Jury Use of New Media: A Baseline Exploration
by Paula Hannaford-Agor, David Rottman, Nicole Waters 

In this paper NCSC staff members Paula Hannaford-Agor, David Rottman, and Nicole Waters offer insights into the current and likely future use of new media by jurors at all stages of the process. The members of the Executive Session on State Court Leadership in the 21st Century requested the design of a research project that could explore the impact of the new media on jurors and jury decision-making as a basis for recommending steps to reconcile new media use with the adversarial process.

Juror and Jury Use of New Media: A Baseline Exploration reports what was learned from conducting a pilot study of new media use by jurors in real trials.

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Courts are Conversations: An Argument for Increased Engagement by Court Leaders
by Garrett Graff

In this paper social media expert Garrett Graff explains the true significance of the arrival of social media as it alters the expectations and habits of American society. He advises state court leaders in Courts are Conversations: An Argument for Increased Engagement by Court Leaders that they 'must not only learn how to communicate with new tools; they must also envision new means of judicial engagement with the public through the new social media that can further advance the legitimacy of courts in a democratic society.' In doing so, Graff provides a fresh perspective on the steps judges and court administrators should take in adopting and making use of social media.

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Opinions as the Voice of the Court:  How State Supreme Courts can Communicate Effectively and Promote Procedural Fairness
by William Vickrey, Douglas Denton, and Hon. Wallace Jefferson

In this paper Vickrey, Denton, and Jefferson argue for the importance of supreme courts issuing opinions written in a manner that conveys the fairness of the process the court followed in reaching its decision. The authors draw on the social-psychological field of procedural fairness to demonstrate ways in which appellate courts can enhance their legitimacy in the eyes of litigants, attorneys, and the public at large. Procedural fairness requires that opinions demonstrate respect for the parties, neutrality, that the voices of the parties were heard, and that the court understood people's concerns. Opinions as the Voice of the Court: How State Supreme Courts can Communicate Effectively and Promote Procedural Fairness also explains how courts can use opinion length, clear language and reasoning, improved communication and collaboration with the media, and law-related education and outreach to reinforce the standing of the courts as an institution.

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A Case for Court Governance Principles
by Christine M. Durham and Daniel J. Becker

During the 1970s and 1980s, the structure of state courts changed from being essentially locally organized to being more centralized at the state level. The change, however, was incomplete. In A Case for Court Governance Principles, Utah Chief Justice Christine Durham and Utah State Court Administrator Dan Becker describe the limits to what structural changes like centralization can accomplish. Recognizing that court culture inherently stresses independence and self-interest, the authors propose eleven unifying principles to guide states as they seek to improve court performance.

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Herding Lions:  Shared Leadership of State Trial Courts
by Barbara Rodriguez Mundell and Wallace B. Jefferson

State court reformers in most states achieved greater standardization and centralization of court governance but in the process left behind significant tensions between local courts and the state-wide court administration. In Herding Lions, retired Arizona Judge Barbara Mundell and Texas Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson put forward an approach based on recognition of the collective responsibility of all courts within a state for the quality of justice administered. They urge that leadership be shared across the different levels of court structure and that local innovation be encouraged and, where effective, replicated statewide.