Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



Published in Justice System Journal 35:4 (2014), pp. 344–361; doi: 10.1080/0098261X.2014.920650


Copyright © 2014 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission.


The court unification movement has progressed in fits and starts over the decades. Recent proposals have been put forth that attempt to continue the move toward a state court structure that utilizes a more coherent approach to governance. Drawing on a survey of court personnel who were asked about a set of proposed governance principles, this article examines how state court judges and administrators view their roles and responsibilities in the court system, the current need for court reform, the importance of future trends, and whether they are confident in the performance of their respective court system. Three hundred and seventy-five judges and administrators answered sixty-two questions regarding principles governing state court procedures and measures of their confidence in the court system. Participants overwhelmingly agreed that changes in court governance are necessary, although the degree of change for specific principles and trends was moderated by career, age, and time working for the courts. Results indicate that perceptions of court performance are not uniform among court professionals, perhaps signifying that current court governance emphases should be reexamined.