WEBINAR: The Delicate Dynamics of Challenging Court Leaders

This webinar was recorded on October 26, 2023.

The act of challenging higher-ranking court leaders within the judicial branch necessitates more than just raising one’s voice; it involves understanding, navigating, and engaging in the subtle yet complex dance of power dynamics, diplomacy, and mutual respect. Wise leaders understand that a free exchange of ideas is invaluable since it often leads to more innovative, workable solutions. Approaching a superior in the professional hierarchy requires a delicate balance and deep understanding of both the person and the situation. Even with an entrée to do so – “Feel free to share your thoughts about my desire to move the court in this direction,” the chief judge said – it can feel like a daunting task to counter a leader’s ideas with opposing viewpoints.

In some instances, however, where there may be serious, unforeseen decision-making flaws, it is an obligation not merely a choice. Here, it is ethically responsible and operationally sensible to speak up. Yet, even in these situations some find the prospect harrowing. While you want to make your point in a convincing way, you don’t want it to come across as disrespectful or argumentative. Fortunately, there are tactful and effective ways to offer a counterpoint or a different opinion that a top leader needs to hear.

For those keen on maintaining professional decorum and growing in their leadership skills in trial courts, this 75-minute online seminar and discussion offers the perspectives of seasoned presiding judges, and a court executive, who have “been there; done that” on the way up to top positions and as senior leaders who have been on the receiving end of challenging comments. Their experiences and advice promises to be both constructive and useful.


  • Mr. Gordon Griller, NAPCO Executive Director
    Former Trial Court Executive in Minnesota and Arizona, NCSC Consultant


  • Hon. Kevin Burke (ret.), Chief Judge | Judicial Consultant
    District Court of Minnesota in Hennepin County (Minneapolis)
  • Hon. Roxanne Bailin (ret.), Chief Judge | Judicial Consultant
    20th Judicial District of Colorado (Boulder); former NCSC Special Consultant
  • Hon. William Dressel (ret.), President Emeritus | Chief Judge
    National Judicial College | 8th Judicial District of Colorado (Fort Collins)