NAPCO held its Second Annual Leadership Academy and Conference at the Scottsdale, Arizona, DoubleTree Resort, September 24-27, 2017. It was hosted by the Arizona Judicial Branch in Maricopa County. The theme, “Champions of Change: Presiding Judges and Court Executives,” began with a day-long Leadership Academy facilitated by Dr. Barry Dornfeld, Center for Applied Research, and the National Center for State Courts, where judge-leaders and court administrators learned how to utilize a court’s culture as an asset for change; discovered through a Socratic Panel presentation how other loosely-coupled organization leaders in hospitals and higher education institutions promote change (Mayo Clinic Scottsdale and Arizona State’s College of Law); and conducted a series of table-top case study exercises on how to successfully institute reforms in trial courts. Academy Day is a flagship program featured at each NAPCO annual conference that brings presiding judges and court executives together in an interactive, team-building setting to improve their leadership skills and knowledge. A variety of plenary sessions and workshops on current and emerging issues in courts took place over the following two days on such topics as artificial intelligence, online dispute resolution, smart ways to manage multiple problem-solving dockets, leading criminal justice coordinating councils, police body-worn cameras, productive ways to utilize executive committees, best practices in dealing with defendant mental health issues, what court leaders need to know and do about the opioid epidemic, building better self-help centers for litigants without lawyers, electronic judicial dashboards as new ways to manage trial court dockets, digital media’s impact on the courts, and how court leaders should deal with the vanishing jury trial.
Our Third Annual Leadership Academy and Conference will be in St. Louis at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in suburban Clayton, a few miles from the heart of St. Louis, on October 14-17, 2018. It will be hosted by the 21st Judicial
Circuit of Missouri. Academy Day will feature Jeswald Salacuse, author and educator on “Leading Leaders” and
will explore techniques and behaviors in leading organizations like courts that focus not on one’s position, but on a
leader’s relationships with the people they are expected to lead. The 21st Circuit covers St. Louis County which
surrounds the City of St. Louis. The Circuit includes Ferguson City Court and many other limited jurisdiction courts that have been the focus of intense reengineering since the upheaval over fines, fees and bail following the Michael Brown shooting in August 2014, when a scathing DOJ Report on Ferguson’s justice system was issued. Circuit Court leaders have spearheaded numerous changes that will be featured at the Conference along with reports from the National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail. Looking ahead, NAPCO’s 2019 Annual Conference will be in Minneapolis, MN, and in 2020, Williamsburg, VA, will be our site. Both those future conferences will occur in the fall; specific dates are yet to be determined.
NAPCO will seek its second SJI grant this year to update the monograph developed by the National Center in June 2006, on Key Elements of an Effective Rule of Court on the Role of the Presiding Judge in Trial Courts. (A few years ago, SJI funded a study NAPCO facilitated on Remote Technology Use by Trial Courts in Adjudication Processes).
A series of Standing Committees have been developed within NAPCO as the organization continues to refine its governance structure and are now in operation, including Executive, Strategic Planning, Finance, Marketing/Membership, Program/Education, and Website Committees. Each committee is co-chaired by a presiding judge and court executive officer.
NAPCO remains a small organization with approximately 200 presiding judge and court executive members. Our intent is to grow to 400-500 members over the next few years. Membership is open to current and former leadership judges and executive officers from all types of jurisdictions and sizes. Our focus will remain on leadership development, education and research. In doing so, we look forward to close partnerships with professional associations dedicated to court reform and improvement, most importantly the Conference of Chief Justices, Conference of State Court Administrators, National Center for State Courts, National Association for Court Management, and American Judges Association.