Resource Guide

In an effort to develop effective internal management system to maintain control over the administrative aspects of the judicial system, the state courts created an  administrative system with simplified organization, centralized administration, and unitary budgeting. While there is no single model of administrative structure in the state courts, most contain a chief justice as the executive head, followed by an administrator of the courts and staff to comprise the administrative office of the courts (AOC), who’s function is to carry out the judiciary’s administrative duties.

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

Featured Links

CCJ/COSCA Court Management Committee Recommended Steps and Practices For the Recruitment, Selection and Retention of State Court Administrators. (2016). Recommended steps and practices for the selection of a state court administrator, including work environment, search strategy, screening/evaluation, selection, and onboading plans.
Linhares, Gregory L. Vision, Function, and the Kitchen Sink: The Evolving Role of the State Court Administrator. (2012). Future Trends in State Courts.

In addition to handling their day-to-day administrative responsibilities and other duties that come their way, state court administrators must also have a vision of how the justice system could be improved.


Coolsen, Peter and Michael Buenger. Report on the 4th National Symposium on Court Management. (2012). National Center for State Courts, National Association for Court Management.

The management and administration of state courts has historically evolved over time, driven by societal trends, technology developments, and the increasing and everchanging demands being placed on state courts. For more than 30 years, state courts have examined these challenges and explored the most productive and efficient way for state courts to adapt and move forward.

Mundell, Barabara Rodriguez & Jefferson, Wallace B. Herding Lions: Shared Leadership of State Trial Courts. (2012).

State court reformers in most states achieved greater standardization and centralization of court governance but in the process left behind significant tensions between local courts and the state-wide court administration. In Herding Lions, retired Arizona Judge Barbara Mundell and Texas Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson put forward an approach based on recognition of the collective responsibility of all courts within a state for the quality of justice administered. They urge that leadership be shared across the different levels of court structure and that local innovation be encouraged and, where effective, replicated statewide.

Steelman, David and Anne Skove. Creation of State Court Administrative Offices and Selection of State Court Administrators. (February 2007).

This report offers state-by-state information on the manner in which state court administrators are chosen in each state.

Rottman, David et al. Table 21--Administrative Office of the Courts: Staffing and Responsibilities for Trial Court Functions. (August 2006).

State Court Organization, 2004, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

This table from State Court Organization provides state-by-state data on the responsibilities of the administrative offices of the courts.
Fetter, Theodore J. A History of the Conference of State Court Administrators. (November 2005).

National Association of Court Management.

Documents the history of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), which was formerly known as the National Conference of Court Administrative Officers (NCCAO) from 1955 to 2005.   
Results from the 2003 Survey of Administrative Models. (2003).

San Francisco: Judicial Council.

Report from three administrative areas of the Administrative Office of the Courts of California: Center for Court Research, Innovation, and Planning. The survey focused on control, funding, and effectiveness of models in each administrative area.
Tobin, Robert. An Overview of Court Administration in the United States. (1997).

In this resource, Tobin examines the importance of court administration in the judicial system, the evolution of modern court administration, and the exercise of administrative authority in the courts.

Trial Court Structure and Performance: A Contemporary Reappraisal. (1996). 160 pages. A research report that applies its findings regarding the progress of nine court systems to the concerns and needs of chief judges, clerks of courts, trial court administrators, and others involved in court management. Information was gathered from reports and interviews with officials and their staff in nine trial court systems representing both unified and fractured systems.
Cameron, James Duke et al. The Chief Justice and the Court Administrator: The Evolving Relationship. (1987).

St Paul, MN: West Publishing.

This article discusses the history of court administration, the respective roles and duties of chief justices and state court administrators, and the inherent differences between the administrative and the judicial approaches to problem solving and decision making. 
Gainey, James, Robert Tobin and Samuel Conti. Ohio State Court Administrative Office Organization and Management Study. (1987). Northeastern Regional Office.

The report proposes changes in the organization and management of the Office of the Administrative Director of the Supreme Court by giving an overview of the Ohio Court Administrative System and recommendations of changes, as well as implementation of those recommendations.

The Judicial Education Reference, Information and Technical Transfer. (JERITT).

East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University.

The national clearinghouse for information on continuing judicial branch education for judges and other judicial officers; administrators and managers; judicial branch educators; and other key court personnel employed in the local, state, and federal courts. The Web site offers a database to search for judicial education programs by organizations, including AOCs.