U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Effecting Change in the Courts: A Process of Leadership

NCJ Number
Date Published
4 pages
This article provides court administrators, presiding judges, chief probation officers, chief clerks, and other leaders with a basis for understanding how to manage organizational change in the courts.
Three types of change discussed are (1) those altering the basic structure of a court system, such as the court deciding to control cases from filing to disposition in all criminal matters; (2) those affecting the task structure or rules, such as instituting a mandatory settlement conference 2 weeks prior to trial; and (3) those modifying the social structure or traditions of the court community, such as instituting a firm continuance policy to replace the use of informal agreements among attorneys. 'Forcefield analysis' -- identifying the factors supporting change and the factors hindering change, then determining which of these issues themselves are subject to change -- is one way of weighing costs against benefits. Reasons for resistance to change are listed as fear of the unknown, sense of loss, threats to competence, altered relationships, and lack of involvement. One strategy for implementing change, responsibility charting, involves identifying those whose involvement is essential to the success of the process, determining which of the primary tasks must be accomplished to give the project momentum, clarifying each person's role, and establishing a reasonable date for completing each task. Questions that need to be asked in clarifying how particular persons will be involved in specific tasks are listed. Photographs.