Judicial Administration

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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The practices, procedures, and offices that deal with the management of the administrative systems of the courts.

Judicial administration, also referred to as court administration, is concerned with the day-to-day and long-range activities of the court system. Every court in the United States has some form of administrative structure that seeks to enhance the work of judges and to provide services to attorneys and citizens who use the judicial system. Since the 1970s the administration of the courts has played a central role in the

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judiciary's response to increased court filings and shrinking budgets.

The administration of the courts has traditionally been concerned with overseeing budgets, selecting juror pools, assigning judges to cases, creating court calendars of activities, and supervising nonjudicial personnel. Often administrative decisions are made by judges, either individually or as a group. Clerks of court, now more commonly known as court administrators, and their staff are called on to accept the filing of court documents, to maintain a file system of cases and a record of all final judgments, and to process paperwork generated by judges.

Early in the twentieth century, ROSCOE POUND, a noted jurist and scholar, called for the reform of court administration to ensure efficiency, accuracy, and consistency in the judicial system. Nevertheless, few systematic attempts to modernize and rationalize courts were made until the early 1970s. In 1971 the creation of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC)?an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the improvement of justice?provided local and state courts with technical assistance on how to modernize. The NCSC, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, was started at the urging of Chief Justice WARREN E. BURGER, who saw a need for leadership in this field.

The staffing of administrative personnel in the courts has changed since the 1970s. The Institute for Court Management (ICM), a division of the NCSC, develops court leaders through education, training, and a court executive development program. The ICM has provided valuable assistance to thousands of court administrators in the United States, disseminating information on new methods and techniques of court administration. More court administrators now have college and advanced degrees, and many have attended law school.

Judicial administration has largely been taken over by court managers. State courts are...

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