American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 47, Issue 4, 80-82


Copyright © 2011 American Judges Association. Used by permission.


Courts are under ever-increasing pressure to be more transparent and accountable. Regardless of whether this is driven by fiscal crises, policy makers’ concerns, or simple public outcry, a common question is, “What are courts doing to be efficient and effective?” If you are not careful, you might think a court is just another public body, like an executive agency, which public-administration experts want to reengineer.

Some judges understandably are resistant to developing their administrative side because—on the surface—managerial values clash with what judges know well and are trained to do: they make decisions and issue orders in individual cases after purposeful deliberation. The role of effective administration in running a court is a topic absent from any law-school curriculum and is missing from many judicial education and training programs. On-the-job training certainly gives you experience, but there are limitations in any learn-as-you-go approach to training.

In this short article, we seek to draw a closer connection between the administration of the legal process in trial courts and how well the legal process serves individual litigants. The thesis is that the nature of court administration affects procedural due process. Advocacy is advanced in courts that make known to attorneys and parties what is going to happen, when, why, and how at all critical stages of the process. To develop and sustain these connections, court personnel at all levels should strive to enhance three areas of administration.