Sunday, July 29, 2007

Trial Courts as Organizations

What makes trial courts tick? What is their organizational culture? This book takes a look: Brian J. Ostrom, Charles W. Ostrom, Roger A. Hanson and Matthew Kleiman, Trial Courts as Organizations (K181 .O44 2005 at Classified Stacks).

The authors are two researchers from the National Center for State Courts and two professors (one Poli Sci and one Poli Sci and Law).

Here's the publisher's synopsis:

Court administrators and judges have long acknowledged that culture plays an important role in the function of trial courts. Trial Courts as Organizations provides a comprehensive framework for understanding this organizational culture, along with a set of steps and tools to assess and measure the current and preferred culture.

The authors examine how courts operate, what characteristics they may display, and how they function as a unit to preserve judicial independence, strengthen organizational leadership, and influence court performance. They identify four different types of institutional cultures using a systematic analysis of alternative values on how work is done. Each culture is shown to have its own strengths and weaknesses in achieving values, such as timely case resolution, access to court services, and procedural justice. Accordingly, the authors find judges and administrators prefer a definite pattern of different cultures, called a "mosaic," to guide how their courts operate in the future.
Lee Epstein (Northwestern University School of Law) has very warm praise:
"A wonderful-and welcome-addition to the literature. To say that political scientists have failed to devote sustained attention state trial courts is to way understate the case. If scholarship was commensurate with caseloads, nine out of every ten studies would focus on these arenas, and not the U.S. Supreme Court or even the lower federal courts-as they currently do. Not only does Trial Courts as Organizations go some distance toward remedying this imbalance, it also does the really hard work of building a foundation for future scholarship. A very impressive achievement indeed."

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