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14th Judicial District Measures Its Performance
 
Improving the publice's trust and confidence in the justice system presents numerous challenges -- one of the most daunting has been identifying the responsibilities for which courts can, and should, be held accountable. The 14th Judicial District Judicial Management Council1 (JMC) announced in the spring of 2005 that it is committed to standards of public accountability and the development of a court performance measurement system. The Court is modeling its system on CourTools, a nationally-acclaimed management tool released in early 2005 by the National Center for State Courts.

"By adopting the CourTools as a model for its performance accountability system, the Court has put itself in the top rank of innovative and responsive public institutions," said Ingo Keilitz, Of Counsel in Performance Measurement of the National Center for State Courts, a national expert on court performance measurement who is assisting the Court. Durham's Superior and District Courts join the Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona, as the first in the nation to use the CourTools, according to Keilitz.

CourTools offers court managers a few core measures that are practical and provides a balanced perspective on court operations. CourTools is a flexible system for improving court operations, not a method for evaluating individual judge's performance.

While CourTools is a new measurement method, it builds on the national Trial Court Performance Standards first published in 1995. The result is a set of 10 measures that

  • follow the fundamental mission of courts in the areas of access and public service, prompt and efficient case administration, and fairness and equality
  • provide a necessary and balanced perspective
  • are outcome focused
  • are feasible, practical, and concise
Adopting a performance measurement system and committing to use the information on an ongoing basis to improve the operation of the Court and its delivery of services are major, long-term undertakings for any court system. Some information is readily available through the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Court's statistical management system, and is posted on the following pages. However, much work must be done in other areas to identify and gather relevant information upon which management decisions can be based. For these measures, we intend to seek the assistance of various national and local resources (National Center for State Courts, University of North Carolina's Institute of Government, Duke University's School of Public Policy, North Carolina Central University's Criminal Justice Department, etc.) as well as input from constituency groups in developing surveys and other protocols tailored for Durham's court system. We welcome your comments and your participation. Please contact Trial Court Administrator Kathy Shuart at Kathy.shuart@nccourts.org.



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1  The 14th Judicial District Management Council includes Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson, Jr.; Chief District Court Judge Marcia H. Morey; Clerk of Superior Court Archie L. Smith III; District Attorney A. Leon Stanback; Public Defender Lawrence M. Campbell; and Trial Court Administrator Kathy L. Shuart.
 
 
 
   
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