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Showing posts from June, 2007

What Is Our Business? Who Are Our Customers?

What is a court’s business? Peter Drucker, probably the most revered management thinker, suggests that this fundamental question may seem simple and obvious. It is in fact difficult and anything but obvious (see his Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. HarperCollins, 1993, pp. 77 – 79).

I know it may sound heretical, but a court’s business is not necessarily determined and defined by law. Instead, it is defined by the wants and needs of its “customers,” suggests Drucker. “To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every business.” By business, he means any enterprise: private, non-profit, and public.

For example, an appellate court may consider its primary customers to be the members of the appellate bar and trial bench who are the major consumers of the appellate court’s decisions and opinions. Because a few pro se litigants are likely to be the only members of the public who have direct contact with the appellate court, and because most appellant litigants’ court…

Radical Transparency

Transparency is the hallmark of good government, an antidote to corruption and a facilitator of openness, communication, and accountability. It is the metaphorical extension of the meaning used in the physical sciences – a “transparent” object is one that can be seen through.

In his new book, The Art and Practice of Court Administration, Alexander B. Aikman urges courts to be more transparent. He suggests that “leadership courts” are those that open their administrative decision-making to public input, scrutiny, and participation, and argues that the tradition of silence regarding judicial decisions need not be carried over to administrative decision-making.

So much for theory. Transparency in practice is another matter, especially when it comes to courts’ performance.

How Much Performance Information Should We Share?

This is a question that causes much hand-wringing among court leaders and managers.

Much of the resistance to performance measurement is based in fears that baring the court’…