Showing posts from April, 2006

Weighing In Every Day?

Want to lose a few pounds? How often should you stand on a scale and track your weight? “If there’s one thing that comes up over and over with the thousands and thousands of patients enrolled in the Nation Weight Control Registry, it’s that weighing yourself each and every day on a scale has helped people lose weight and keep it off,” says Rena Wing, Ph.D., founder of the registry which includes over 5,000 people who shed an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for six years. “You don’t need to obsess over ounces every day, but keep track of the range – within two or three pounds – of what you weigh,” says Wing.

The lesson is the same for court performance measurement. Once you have taken the first four steps of building a court performance measurement system (CPMS) and identified the right performance measures, it is time to make sure that the measures gets into the hands of the right people at the right time. How frequently should the data for each measure be collected and made …

Jury Representativeness – Part 2

Last week’s blog, Jury Representativeness – Part 1, presented the argument for the use of the “representativeness” of the final juror pool as a measure of fundamental fairness, equality and integrity. This second part of the blog is an operational definition of the measure using the same straightforward format as that used to describe the ten measures of the CourTools.


The comparative parity (i.e., the absence of disparity) -- expressed as a percentage -- between the representation of minority groups in the population and the representation of the same groups in the final juror pool or venire.


How well juries mirror the community from which they are drawn is widely considered a reflection of the equality, fairness and integrity of our justice system. In the past, juries were often composed of individuals selected from certain strata of the population. Bias or discrimination, intentional or not, was usually the result. Verdicts reflected the community standards of these …

Jury Representativeness – Part 1

Jury representativeness, the degree to which a group (e.g., African Americans) is fairly represented in the jury pool from which jurors are selected, is considered a core court performance measure. Standard 3.2, “Juries,” of the Trial Court Performance Standards -- one of six standards aligned with the performance area of “Equality, Fairness and Integrity” -- requires that trial courts do their utmost to encourage quality, fairness, and integrity by ensuring that individuals called for jury duty are representative of the population from which the jury was drawn. In the 1997 Trial Court Performance Standards and Measurement System, my colleagues and I described three measures to ascertain whether a court achieves this standard:

Measure 3.2.1 focuses on the inclusiveness of the source list. Inclusiveness is measured by comparing the number of names on the source list(s) with the number of age-eligible persons in the population of the jurisdiction. The more closely the numbers match, the…

Comparing Apples and Oranges … And Learning from It

In his latest Public Management Report, Bob Behn argues that we have more to learn from dissimilar organizations than from ones that are very much like ours. He presents a powerful counterargument to a reason often raised for not doing comparative performance measurement – i.e., efforts that focus on a court’s performance in relation to that of other courts. The reason goes something like this: What we do, and the environment in which we operate, are so unique that we can’t be compared with other courts. And, because no two courts and no two jurisdictions are the same, any comparisons would be like comparing apples and oranges. We can only learn from courts that are exactly like us. End of discussion.

This is a “brilliantly convenient excuse,” says Behn. Managers believe that nothing that they are not already doing works; and if it does, it must mean that the circumstances in which it works must be “weird.” So why bother even trying to learn from “them.” Whatever they might be doing…

Eight Reasons Not To Measure Court Performance

It is not sufficient to proclaim the benefits of court performance measurement -- focus, attention, understanding, control, accountability, prediction, influence, and strategy development -- and to expect effective implementation. Performance measurement, like any management tool, has shortcomings that should not be dismissed. These shortcomings can be minimized and even eliminated, however, when they are identified, clearly understood, thoroughly and candidly explored, and addressed in specific terms. Unfortunately, the shortcomings of performance measurement are often framed as absolute deterrents or broad indictments.

In his insightful (and irreverent) 1998 book, Measuring Up: Governing’s Guide to Performance Measurement for Geniuses [and Other Public Managers] (Governing Books, Washington, DC), author Jonathan Walters, tallies up the reasons why you can’t possibly do performance measurement, especially in the public sector, or all the reasons that those around you will use to argue…