American Judges Association



Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 53, Issue 4 (2017)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


The National Center for State Courts has a new publication for state trial judges on how to develop excellence in nine key areas. The Elements of Judicial Excellence grew out of an intensive consultation process with the Illinois courts. Illinois judges identified their best judges—and National Center staff did extensive interviews with 103 of those judges to get a preliminary list of the characteristics associated with judicial excellence and then to identify the qualities potentially amenable to development. Researchers further refined their data and conclusions with focus groups and a survey.

The resulting framework is broader than knowledge of the law and court rules. Top judges also identified the need to have broader knowledge about the court community, stakeholder agencies, and other resources that can contribute to better problem solving or decision making. Participants also said that procedural-fairness skills and the ability to handle the emotions encountered while judging should be developed.