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Logic of Court Reform - Is Frederick Taylor Gloating?

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 4 Issue: 2 Dated: (Fall 1979) Pages: 7-16
S W Hays
Date Published
10 pages
Court unification and alternative reform strategies may be potential means of reconciling the need for competent judicial administration with a concern for local autonomy and other parts of the judicial tradition.
The history and logic of court reform suggest that court unification is inappropriate as a response to court management dilemmas. It is becoming increasingly apparent that administrative centralization is an over-simplified solution to court ills. The reasons for this are lodged in environmental and institutional components of State and local courts. Since court systems are microcosms of the political and social systems in which they exist, they should reflect the divisions, structures, and processes of those systems. Each State must evaluate its own situation and implement refoms that are compatible with political, social, and institutional exigencies. Furthermore, reform strategies must be developed that permit reformers to eliminate gross inefficiency without destroying flexibility. Some alternative reform strategies are formula grants (grants administered by the State, using a formula based upon population, litigation rates and prior expenditure levels); judicial councils (councils composed of judges drawn from throughout the court system); a judicial committee grounded in the concept of diversity; leadership selection (with local selection serving more purposes than State selection); and improved managerial styles such as management by objectives. While these alternative strategies are indicative of the options available to transitional court systems, reforms must ultimately be designed as responses to specific and unique problems. Footnotes and about 30 references are provided.


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