Strategic Planning

Resource Guide

A prerequisite for enhancing court performance and administration includes consideration of future court circumstances, responsibilities, and goals. Seeking ways to adapt management practices in a changing environment is essential for court planning.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.


Featured Links

Clarke, Thomas M. and Victor E. Flango. Case Triage for the 21st Century. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts. Differentiated case management was a distinct advance in the effort to reduce court delay. Here the next step in the evolution of case management—a more refined triage based upon issues raised rather than case type, a larger role for litigant choice, and the best use of scarce resources—is previewed.
Martin, John A. and Brenda J. Wagenknecht-Ivey. It's a New Day: Future Trends Require Revolutionary Changes in Courts. (2011). Future Trends in State Courts. The social, economic, technological, and policy trends shaping the courts since the 1990s, coupled with emerging trends, will require courts to alter their roles more profoundly by 2020 than ever before. Courts must revolutionize how they provide justice services, rethink how they do business, and assertively shape a better future.
Clarke, Thomas M. Possible Implications of the Principles-Based Essential Functions of Courts: A Modest Proposal. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. What are the impacts on the courts as they currently operate? Will this approach achieve the objective, which is to concentrate dwindling court resources on those functions constituting the core and constitutional mission of the state and local courts? At this point, no one knows the answers to those questions. This essay will discuss some possible implications and suggest ways in which courts might be reorganized to implement these ideas.
Clarke, Thomas M. Reengineering: Governance and Structure. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. When attempting to change something as fundamental as court governance and structure, it becomes even more important to start with high-level principles that establish the goals and values of the reengineering project. Early agreement to principles will help legislators and other policy makers guide decision making and also communicate the basis for any decisions as the political pressure to maintain the status quo builds.
Clarke, Thomas M. The Business Case for Court-Principles-Based Essential Functions. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts. Primarily in response to the current deep economic recession and its attendant impacts on state and local revenue and budgets, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has worked with a number of state supreme courts and court administrative offices to “reengineer” their state court systems.
Flango, Victor E. Which Disputes Belong in Court?. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts.

In a financial crisis, the need to prioritize takes on increased urgency because essential services must be maintained despite diminished resources. The current financial crisis then provides an opportunity to examine court services, define those that are most essential, streamline or even eliminate services that are not the highest priority, and reengineer those court processes which remain.

Articles and Reports

Van Duizend, Richard and Kathy Mays Coleman. Why Not Now? Strategic Planning by Courts in Challenging Financial Times. (2009) Future Trends in State Courts. This article discusses how states, local governments, and trial courts around the nation are using strategic planning as a tool to identify and better manage their core missions during these difficult fiscal times.
Webster, Lawrence. Court IT Strategic Planning. (2008) Future Trends in State Courts. This article discusses how investing in court IT strategic planning not only eliminates management issues for court leaders but also creates a foundation for success with other initiatives to improve the judicial branch.
A Court System of the Future: The Promise of Court Restructuring in New York State. (February 2007). Recognizing the need for reform, this commission reported the recommendations which should be made to the New York State Courts in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.  These are the links to the report's Appendix, The Special Commission on the Future of the New York State Courts, and the relevant state Senate bill for court reform
Pankey, Kenneth, and Anne Skove. Charting a Course to Strategic Thought and Action: Developing Strategic Planning Capacities in State Courts. (May 2003). Knowledge and Information Services. This report presents information intended to help state courts improve their capacities for conducting visioning and strategic planning activities. This report attempts to relate its review of the concepts to actual court futures efforts, the intent being to discern some lessons from their experiences.
Ostrom, Brian, Shauna Strickland, and Paula Hannaford-Agor. Examining Trial Trends in State Courts: 1976 - 2002 . (November 2004). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 1, no. 3 (November 2004): 755-782. This article introduces the State Court Disposition Trends database and analyzes, for the first time, long-term trial trends in the state courts. The present analysis examines 27- year trends of trials and trial rates for criminal, civil, and felony cases, and 11-year trends of trials and trial rates for general civil cases.
Schultz, Wendy L., Clement Bezold, and Beatrice Monahan. Reinventing Courts for the 21st Century: Designing a Vision Process. (1993). NCSC, Institute for Alternative Futures, and Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies. A guidebook on futures thinking within state court systems.
Ten Trends Impacting State Courts. (2006). Knowledge and Information Services. The ten most important trends that are impacting state courts.
Rottman, David, Trends and Issues in State Courts: Challenges and Achievements. (June 2004). Judiciary These are challenging times for the state judicial branches. Funding has been cut, relations with the other branches of government are frayed, and election campaigns for judicial office can be injudicious. Significant innovation is occurring nonetheless.

General

Strategic Plan for the Federal Judiciary. The plan addresses issues including delivery of justice, effective and efficient management of resources, and the potential for technology.
Ericksen, Charles, Moderator. Court Futures Dialogue. (December 2007).

One of the most pressing issues facing the courts is how to approach "the future." Three prominent futurists join three court professionals in a moderated "blog" about the status of futures studies in the courts.

An Environmental Scan for State Courts. (November 2005). Knowledge and Information Services. An environmental scan, a major tool in strategic planning, is incorporated into some of the earlier Future Trends in State Courts reports. The 2005 scan has one domain - relevance to courts - which is subdivided into four groups: Population Demographics; Political, Social, and Justice Trends; Economic Conditions; and Technology and Science.
Martin, John and Brenda Wagenknecht - Ivy. Courts 2010. (2000).

Critical trends shaping the courts in the next decade.

Wagenknecht-Ivey, Brenda J. et al. Strategic Planning Mentoring Guidelines: Practical Tips for Court Leaders. (2000). Denver: Center for Public Policy Studies This takes readers to the Florida State Courts Strategic Planning Web site .  The Strategic Planning Mentoring Guidelines are divided into six sections -- Introduction, Long-Range Strategic Planning in Florida's Judicial Branch: Overview, Deciding to Do Long-Range Strategic Planning, Getting Started, Facilitating the Strategic Planning Process and Implementing the Strategic Plan, and Conclusions.
Journal of Futures Studies: Epistemology, Methods, Applied and Alternative Futures. The Journal of Futures Studies is a globally-oriented, trans-disciplinary referred journal. Its mission is to develop high-quality, futures-oriented research and thinking based on the evolving knowledge base of Futures Studies. Articles accepted for publication are expected to show an in-depth understanding of the field's dimensions, content, research perspectives and methods.

Organizations

World Future Society. The World Future Society is a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific and educational association of people interested in how social and technological developments are shaping the future.  Here you can find a neutral clearinghouse that for ideas about the future.
World Futures Studies Federation. "An organization of some 300 individuals and 20 institutions around the world whose mission is to promote futures education and research. The WFSF is a global network of practicing futurists - researchers, teachers, scholars, policy analysts, activists and others from over 60 countries - established in 1967."

Strategic Planning in the Courts

David Steelman. Twelve Steps to Enhance the Efficiency of Court Operations in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. (2011). National Center for State Courts, Court Consulting Services.

This publication discusses inefficiencies within the Lancaster County court system and steps that can be taken to correct them.

Thomas M. Clarke. Possible Implications of the Principles-Based Essential Functions of Courts: A Modest Proposal. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts 2010.

This article discusses some possible implications and suggest ways in which courts might be reorganized to concentrate dwindling court resources on those functions constituting the core and constitutional mission of the state and local courts.

Hon. Paul J. De Muniz. Building Tomorrow's Courts Today. (2009). Future Trends in State Courts 2009.

This article discusses how the staff of Oregon's state courts strives and have succeeded to fulfill their mission to provide fair and accessible justice services that protect the rights of individuals, preserve community welfare, and maintain the public's confidence in their justice system.  how courts have been outsourcing for years and will likely do more of it in the future to hold costs down and improve service.

Richard Van Duizend and Kathy Mays Coleman. Why Not Now? Strategic Planning by Courts in Challenging Financial Times. (2009). Future Trends in State Courts 2009.

This article discusses how states, local governments, and trial courts around the nation are using strategic planning as a tool to identify and better manage their core missions during these difficult fiscal times.

Pankey, Kenneth, Anne Skove and Jennifer Sheldon. Charting a Course to Strategic Thought and Action: Developing Strategic Planning Capacities in State Courts. (May 2002).

This report presents information intended to help state courts improve their capacities for conducting visioning and strategic planning activities and attempts to relates its review of the concepts to actual court futures efforts, the intent being to discern some lessons from their experiences.

Fautsko, Timothy, Cynthia Dietrich and Penelope Wentland. Report of Strategic Planning and Customer Service Development Training in Preparation for IJJIS Development and Implementation. (December 1999). Court Services Division

An analysis of how Orleans Parish must reform its overcrowded juvenile courts. This report includes articles on fairness and racial bias, problems which these courts constantly face. Charts and articles are provided towards the end which discuss possible solutions to the multitude of problems faced by Orleans Parish.

Martin, John A. Strategic Planning in the Courts: Implementation Guide. (1995). Denver, CO: Center for Public Policy Studies A short handbook which outlines some of the steps that a court can take to improve its strategic planning. This starts with the planning process, an 8-step program which leads to the actual strategy. Suggestions to expedite court cases are suggested, as well as methods of unclogging institutional backup. (KF8732 S76)
Court Strategic Plans. Judicial Council of California. Includes the Judicial Council`s Strategic Plan, and the Judicial Branch Operational Plan.
Justice 2020. Arizona Supreme Court A web site which discusses the State of Arizona ’s plan for implementing a more comprehensive strategic planning system.  Included are keynote addresses, law code excerpts, and findings of task groups and special panels.  The state lists five goals at the bottom of every page as the keys to reaching their eventual higher status.