At the 2013 Mid-Year Conference of the National Association for Court Management (NACM), leaders of the National Conference of Metropolitan Courts (NCMC) met with NACM Board Members to discuss a closer relationship between the two groups. It is envisioned that such a collaboration would help to re-invigorate membership in both organizations, jointly strengthen educational programming, and develop stronger team capacities among leadership judges and professional court managers in administering and operating multi-judge trial courts.
The two organizations would remain separate and distinct organizations, but dedicate themselves to greater collaboration on policies, initiatives, and educational programming. Both have much in common already. Many NACM members, including both presiding judges and court administrators, are members of NCMC. Court administrators sit on the Board of Directors of the Metro Courts. NACM recently created a Judge Director position on its Board. The national agendas of both organizations are in alignment in many ways.
NACM’s 2010 – 2015 priorities include emphasizing caseflow management reforms, sustaining excellence in difficult budget times, enhancing public perceptions of courts and increasing community collaboration, promoting improved court leadership and governance, preparing for and responding to trends, and supporting professional court management education.
Key areas of interest for NCMC inlcude improving and sustaining sound caseflow management and delay reduction programs; enhancing trial court leadership and governance capacities; developing succession plans and guidelines to help courts transition effectively from one presiding or chief judge to another; promoting calendar management skills for trial judges, including managing trials efficiently, mediation and arbitration proficiency, and proven settlement techniques; collaborating with other court improvement organizations to advance judicial independence and the Rule of Law; studying, supporting and publicizing proven techniques to reduce cost and delay in litigation; and spearheading and overseeing the implementation of high-tech solutions to streamline trial court information processes.
A highlighted area of agreement in the discussions at the Los Angeles meeting was the fact that high performing courts exhibit a strong teamwork culture between leadership judges and court administrators characterized by clearly defined roles, mutual trust and respect, maximum access to each other, and a shared recognition of the special skills possessed by each that contribute to the overall success of the court. Working together in related, professional associations, all agreed, will help to foster those important virtues.
Some early collaborative efforts that a stronger partnership between NCMC and NACM can foster include a special invitation to NCMC members to attend the 2013 NACM Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, July 14-18, 2013; a commitment by NCMC to plan one or more programs targeting court managers in multi-judge courts at the NCMC Annual Conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 13-15, 2013; a NCMC Annual Conference in 2014 concurrent with the NACM Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, July 13-17, 2014; jointly searching for and applying for federal, private and nonprofit grants that would mutually benefit both organizations; and the develop of a cadre of presiding judge and court executive teams willing to do short-term technical assistance consulting or educational programs for states and trial courts in exchange for expenses only that could be done in partnership with National Center for State Courts projects.