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Court Executive Officer

What Does A Court Executive Do?

The Court Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible for Human Resource Management; preparing court budgets; administering accounting, purchasing, payroll, and financial control functions; and guiding the budget through state and local government review processes; Case flow Management, evaluating pending caseloads; developing and implementing systems (both automated and procedural) that support effective calendar management; Technology Management, evaluating opportunities for technologies that expand the capacity of the court system; Information Management, developing the capacity to deliver information to decision makers at critical events; Jury Management, managing the jury system in the most efficient and cost-effective way; Space Management, managing physical space to assure access to all citizens, provide adequate room for work and circulation, and instill public confidence; Intergovernmental Liaison-acting as a liaison to other governmental agencies and departments to promote collaboration, integration of systems, and facilitation of change while maintaining the integrity of the court as a separate but equal branch of government; Community Relations and Public Information, acting as a clearinghouse for the release of information to the media, and the public; collecting and publishing data on pending and completed judicial business and internal functions of the court system; Research and Advisory Services-identifying organizational problems and recommending procedural and administrative changes; Secretariat Services-acting as staff for judicial committees or organizations.

The Relationship of the Court Executive Officer (CEO) to the Bench

Judges and the CEO work in a complex environment. Within that environment, one of the most significant relationships is that between the judges and the CEO. Judges ultimately are responsible for effective administration of the court. Frequently, constitutions and statutes make this duty clear; other times, the duty is implied. In either case, effective administration takes place when the judiciary and the CEO manage the court together. Effective systems of administration provide for the participation of all judges in the development of policy and planning for the court. Through the collaborative efforts of the CEO and the presiding judge, court policy is implemented, monitored, and facilitated.

The CEO serves the dual function of increasing the amount of time a judge has for adjudication and bringing professional management knowledge and capability to the judiciary. In courts where judges lack administrative support they must divide their time between judicial and administrative functions. With mounting caseloads and increased pressure for more case dispositions, judges have little time to direct the day-to-day operations of the court system, plan for the implementation of new technologies, or integrate new procedures that can improve system performance. A court administrator can help the court develop and recommend policies and coordinated work processes that enhance system performance, while maintaining the independence of individual judges. CEOs can also help develop goals for the courts, prepare and execute budgets, recognize changes in caseload or demographics that will affect court operations and funding, manage court personnel and programs for their professional development, improve jury systems and services to the public, implement automated information systems, plan for space requirements, administrate systems for assessing and collecting fees, and establish procedures for handling information requests.

How Does Someone Become A Court Executive Officer

Personal and Professional Skill

A Court Executive Officer (CEO) is selected by a process that includes a majority vote of all the judges in a multi-judge court. In very large urban courts, a selection committee chaired by the presiding judge and representative of the entire bench can select the CEO. The position of Court Executive Officer is the most important non-judicial position in the court; therefore, each judge participates in the hiring process.

The CEO’s needs to posses an ability to analyze problems, formulate recommendations, build consensus, empower people, and foster change are among the attributes of a successful administrator. A successful CEO working in a complex court environment exhibits the following:

  • Learning Skills: Learning to learn is basic to all other skills; court administrators are required to respond quickly, adapt to changes in technologies and workload, and enable the development of appropriate responses to organizational changes.
  • Communication: Speaking, Writing, and Listening Skills: Most of our daily routine is taken up with communication in one form or another. As work processes and procedures are negotiated, monitored, and changed, the ability to communicate clearly is fundamental to success.
  • Adaptability: Problem Solving and Creativity Skills: In any rapidly changing environment, successful CEOs create opportunity and exploit new technologies or create new organizational relationships to overcome barriers to court system goals.
  • Motivation and Goal-setting Skills: The ability to link court system goals and performance measures with work processes and employee reward and staff development programs.
  • Interpersonal Skills: The ability to relate to individuals, both within and outside the court system, through appropriate styles that communicate trust, understanding, and loyalty to court system values.
  • Negotiation Skills: The ability to overcome conflict through problem solving and collaboration strategies that focuses on organizational goals and values as arbiters of conflict and choice.
  • Teamwork Skills: The ability and confidence to empower court system employees and inter-organizational staff to take responsibility for court system goals and performance standards.
  • Leadership Skills: The ability to clearly communicate organizational values that influence others to take individual responsibility for achieving court system values and goals and to instill the confidence to change and adapt as changes in work load, funding, or technology reshape existing work processes or relationships.

Ideally, the CEO will combine the technical skills of a manager with knowledge of public and business administration and an understanding of the duties and the problems peculiar to the courts.

Specifically, the CEO should have completed considerable study of public and business administration or have on-the-job experience in these fields. To this end, many courts require that a court administrator hold a degree in business, public, or judicial administration or be a graduate of the Court Executive Development Program of the Institute for Court Management. In addition, the court administrator should be familiar with courts and government as well as with business organization and operations.

Professional Standards

The Court Executive Officer should have these qualifications:

  • Administrative ability demonstrated by substantial experience in progressively more responsible management positions in government or the private sector;
  • Experience in current business and management techniques, including use and implementation of automated data processing;
  • A demonstrated ability to plan and conduct studies to improve court administration and to prepare recommendations and implement them when approved;
  • Good judgment, understanding, and tact ability to maintain working relationships with other courts and with local, state, and federal government officials, members of the bar, and the public;
  • The ability to conduct conferences and meetings and communicate clearly in writing and speech to employees, the judges of the courts, representatives of government agencies, industry, and the public;
  • Formal training in court administration and managerial experience, in addition to familiarity with court procedures;
  • Creativity, leadership, planning ability, organizational skills, initiative, decisiveness, and dedication to making productive changes in operating methods;
  • High ethical standards;
  • A fundamental understanding of and loyalty to the court's purpose and goals as a separate branch of government;
  • Knowledge of and ability to adapt to the unique court environment;
  • Ability to follow as well as to lead in the implementation of policies created by the judiciary;
  • Respect for the requirements of confidentiality and loyalty when entrusted with the confidence of the judges;
  • Educational qualifications related directly to the functions that the CEO's position requires.

Preferred Qualifications

A graduate degree in judicial administration, public administration, business administration, or law with management training or experience in a court for three or more years with proven competency in administration and management.

Minimum Qualifications

A bachelor's degree in one of the fields named above or three years of experience in a responsible elected or appointed position, with training in court administration.