Chief Judges and Court Executive Officers from 32 States attended the first annual Trial Court Leadership Academy and Conference held by the National Association for Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO) in partnership with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The meeting was held in Cleveland, Ohio and hosted by the Hon. Fred Horn, NAPCO Board Chair, and 2016 NAPCO President the Hon. John J. Russo, Presiding & Administrative Judge, Court of Common Pleas in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. A Leadership Academy, presented on Monday, September 26, was taught by Mary McQueen, President of the National Center, and Barry Dornfeld, Principle, Center for Applied Research (CFAR), a Boston/Philadelphia consultancy affiliated with the Wharton School of Management at the University of Pennsylvania.
The program included a variety of helpful techniques and evidence-based practices directed at enhancing governance and leadership performance by top court leaders, including methods for creating “productive pairs” by strengthening chief/presiding/administrative judges and court executives/administrators/managers roles and relationships across judicial and administrative boundaries, clarifying decision rights in loosely coupled organizations, and using influence to get things done in courts.
On Tuesday and Wednesday NAPCO arranged a series of workshops focused on contemporary issues faced by trial court leaders, including such subjects as ethics and professional responsibility for PJs, Chiefs and CEOs; instituting civil justice reforms in trial courts; developing useful and productive pretrial programs; managing crisis situations in trial courts; rethinking fines, fees, and court costs involving the poor and impoverished litigants; planning for emerging court technologies that save adjudication time and money; and developing smart ways to manage high profile trials in today’s world. You can see the complete agenda — including session materials (e.g. PDFs & PowerPoints) — here.
The keynote address, entitled “Courage as a Necessary Skill in Court Leadership,” was delivered by the Hon. Karl DeMarce, Municipal Division Work Group, Supreme Court of Missouri. It targeted issues related to improving limited jurisdiction courts in Missouri in the wake of numerous studies and reports directed at the problems uncovered by a Department of Justice review of the Ferguson Municipal Court following the Michael Brown shooting on August 9, 2014. Missouri court leaders are in the process of revamping the state’s limited jurisdiction courts.
The conference program also included the presentation of two national awards. The 2016 National Center’s Chief Justice Warren Burger Award given to Russell R. Brown III, Court Administrator, Cleveland Municipal Court by NCSC President Mary Campbell McQueen, and the 2016 Justice Management Institute’s Ernest C. Friesen Award presented to Gordon Griller, NAPCO Executive Director and NCSC Court Consultant by JMI President Elaine Borakove.
Planning has begun for the next national leadership conference which will be held in Phoenix, AZ, September 24-27, 2017. It will be hosted by 2017 NAPCO President the Hon. Janet Barton, Presiding Judge for the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County, and 2017 NAPCO Vice President Ray Billotte, Administrator for the Judicial Branch of Arizona in Maricopa County.