American Judges Association


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Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 44:1/2. Copyright © 2007-2008 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission.


This essay reflects on the ways in which procedural fairness can provide the direction for a revived court reform agenda. All previous eras of court reform were guided by a theory drawn either from academia or the field of management. Procedural fairness, in my view, is the organizing theory for which 21st-century court reform has been waiting.

Past eras of court reform accomplished a great deal. In 1950, there were 826 trial courts in California. Today, 58 trial courts—one per county—hear all manners of cases. Management theories drawn from the business field provided the blueprint for court reform by (a) simplifying trial court structure though consolidation, (b) centralizing management, (c) replacing local court funding with state funding under a centralized budget, and (d) centralizing rule making.

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