Periodically, NAPCO canvasses its membership regarding major issues and problems confronting leadership judges and court executives in trial courts. A list of strategic directions important to the national community of metropolitan trial courts is subsequently created as the basis for educational programming and national efforts directed at improvements and reforms. Below is the list of priorities developed by the Association over recent years. These subjects and objectives likely will change somewhat as the future unfolds through membership surveys and a clearer awareness by NAPCO leaders regarding new and emerging trends for state and local trial courts.
2018-2021 Strategic Campaign
NAPCO’s Strategic Planning Committee, co-chaired by the Hon. Paula Carey, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Trial Courts, and Sandra Lonergan, Trial Court Administrator for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida in Miami/Dade County, recently developed a set of initiatives that chart the organization’s course over the next three fiscal years (July 2018 – June 2021). Called a “strategic campaign” rather than a strategic plan, it was endorsed and adopted by the NAPCO Board in March 2018.
“A campaign approach is more flexible and open-ended than traditional planning,” said Gordon Griller, NAPCO’s Executive Director. “It permits judges, court managers, and courts themselves to mobilize around broad-scoped themes rather than narrow, fixed objectives.” Other advantages of the campaign approach and use of themes, he noted, is it allows substantial and recurrent planning, invites continual interpretation and discovery regarding actions and programs, and largely focuses on the services given by the organization to benefit its members, court leaders, and the national justice community in general.
The four themes guiding NAPCO’s work will target activities that (1) build and enhance the governance and leadership skills and capacities of presiding and court executive officers, (2) equip court leaders with the knowledge and tools necessary to lead change and court improvement efforts, (3) create collaborative, complementary alliances with justice system associations that seek to advance the interests of justice and principles inherent in the Rule of Law, and (4) promote and increase the membership of NAPCO. A complete copy of the strategic campaign can be viewed and downloaded here.
First Level Priorities
- Promote caseflow management and delay/cost reduction programs in trial courts;
- Increase trial court productivity through reengineering and operational innovations;
- Strengthen leadership skills training for presiding/chief judges and court executives;
- Endorse and promulgate caseflow management standards and goals for courts, including new time processing objectives adopted by the American Bar Association in August 2011;
- Collaborate with other court improvement organizations, especially the Conference of Chief Justices, Conference of State Court Administrators, and National Association for Court Management, to advance judicial independence, fair and unbiased courts, and the Rule of Law;
- Identify and further techniques and training regimens to enhance calendar management skills for trial judges, including managing trials effectively, mediation and arbitration proficiency, and settlement skills;
- Develop leadership succession guidelines and principles to help trial courts in the transition from one presiding or chief judge to another; and
- Create and advocate strategies and practices to improve/modernize trial court facilities and courthouse security
Second Level Priorities
- Develop useful guides and workshops on budget cutback strategies;
- Support evidence-based sentencing and evidence-based probation in criminal cases;
- Research and endorse proven problem-solving forums such as drug courts, mental health courts, teen courts, veterans’ courts, and domestic violence courts as effective ways to deliver justice;
- Promote public information programs to demystify the court system;
- Work to encourage court-related efforts to minimize jail overcrowding and promote effective pretrial programs in lieu of money bonds;
- Advance high-tech and e-court solutions for trial courts;
- Promote greater diversity on the bench and among court executives in all trial courts;
- Research and outline practical, proven ways to build better, more supportive relationships with funding agencies (e.g. cities, counties, state legislatures);
- Explore and identify ways to improve collaborative, productive relationships between trial courts and statewide administrative offices of the courts (AOC’s);
- Support and advocate the implementation of new jury reforms adopted by the American Bar Association (e.g. allow jurors to ask questions, take notes, use juror notebooks, etc.);
- Improve the understanding and relationships between trial courts and the media;
- Encourage the adoption and practical implementation of the National Center for State Courts’ ten CourTool performance measures in all trial courts; and
- Be a leader in judicial and court executive ethics training
Third Level Priorities
- Take an active role in identifying and supporting national programs that target early detection of abuse, neglect and victimization of vulnerable populations;
- Research and support workable guidelines on privacy and public access to court records; and
- Champion the development of unified family courts, combining the adjudication of juvenile, domestic relations and other related matters under the umbrella of one family/one judge or judicial team.