Performance Measurement

Resource Guide

Court performance standards establish goals for effective court performance in five areas: access to justice, expedition and timeliness; equality, fairness, and integrity; independence and accountability; and public trust and confidence. Through the collective work of all members of the judicial process, from judges to administrators to clerks, courts can better assess and recognize areas within their system that require attention and improvement.

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

Featured Links

CourTools. National Center for State Courts.

The ten trial court performance measures known as CourTools offer courts a balanced perspective on how the court is conducting its business. In designing the CourTools, the National Center for State Courts integrated lessons from successful performance measurement systems in both the public and private sectors with its earlier work with the Trial Court Performance Standards.

Flango, Victor E. and Nora Sydow. Educational Well-Being: Court Outcome Measures for Children in Foster Care. (2011). National Center for State Courts. Although safety and permanency performance measures for cases involving children in foster care have been established, tested, and implemented, court-related well-being measures have yet to be developed. This article describes the initial effort to establish a set of educational well-being measures to track success in improving educational outcomes for children in foster care.
Performance Measurement. National Center for State Courts.

NCSC Area of Expertise.

Case Processing Time Standards. National Center for State Courts.

This database compiles state-by-state information about Case Processing Time Standards (CPTS) and how states monitor them.

Court Performance Standards: CourTools. National Center for State Courts. Court Performance Standards: CourTools is an eLearning course offered by the Institute of Court Management. The course is ongoing.
Court Automation Performance Goals. National Center for State Courts. Standards presented have been suggested by technology visionaries as the tool needed for the judiciary to create the optimal work environment.
CourTools On-Demand: Web-Based Software for Judges, Court Managers, and Court Staff. Presentation from the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the National Court Technology Conference on court business intelligence.


Mental Health Court Performance Measures (MHCPM). MHCPM is a set of 14 performance measures that offers court managers and administrators a tool to monitor the performance of mental health courts.
Van Duizend, Richard, David Steelman, and Lee Suskin. Model Time Standards for State Trial Courts.. (August 2011). National Center for State Courts and State Justice Institute.

This document is the result of a two-year review of the more than 40 years of experience with time-to-disposition standards. The time to disposition standards set forth in this document, based on a review of the experience of state courts, are intended to establish a reasonable set of expectations for the courts, for lawyers, and for the public.

Mark Hardin, Ying-Ying Yuan, Judith Larsen, Sophia I. Gatowski, and Dawn Marie Rubio. Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Assessment Guide. (2008). National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National Center for State Courts, and American Bar Association. This volume of the toolkit presents a method for obtaining data on judicial workloads in abuse and neglect cases which includes an assessment of what is required for best practice in these cases, discusses different approaches to workload analysis, and provides tools for conducting analyses.
Sophia I. Gatowski and Lisa Portune. Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Implementation Guide . (2008). National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. This volume of the toolkit provides practical advice to child abuse and neglect courts on how to set up a court performance measurement team, assess capacity, prioritize among measurement needs, plan data collection activities, and use the data generated through the performance measurement process to plan reforms.
Victor Flango and Neal Kauder. Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Key Measures. (2008). National Center for State Courts and VisualResearch Inc. This volume of the toolkit outlines nine measures that have been identified as key to determining court performance in child abuse and neglect cases and discusses the goal of each measure, data requirements, calculation and interpretation, and important related measures.
Mark Hardin and Susan Koenig. Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: Technical Guide. (2008). American Bar Association Center on Children and Law. This toolkit provides practical and comprehensive guidance in measuring court performance in child abuse and neglect cases, measuring the effects of activities performed and determining what works and what does not work.
Sophia I. Gatowski and Shirley Dobbin. Court Performance Measures in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases: User's Guide to Nonautomated Data Collection . (2008). National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. This volume of the toolkit explains how to use nonautomated data collection methods, such as review, court observation, interviews, and focus groups, to complete the performance measurement picture on child abuse and neglect cases.
Clark, Thomas, Richard Schauffler, Brian Ostrom, Charles Ostrom, and .Roger Hanson. A Unifying Framework for Court Performance Measurement. (May 2008).

This report proposes a unifying performance measurement framework for courts to simplify their ability to use collected data to improve court operations.

Building a Better Court: Measuring and Improving Court Performance and Judicial Workload in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases. (April 2004). NCSC, American Bar Association, and National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. The Guide and Companion Toolkit, developed with funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, are designed to help courts handling child abuse and neglect cases make real and sustained advances in improving court performance by successfully measuring court performance and judicial workload needs.
Mahoney, Barry et al. Changing Times in Trial Courts: Caseflow Management and Delay Reduction in Urban Trial Courts. (1988). 246 pages. "As this classic report shows, caseflow management in American urban trial courts has become an important and effective approach to reducing court delay.  Successful caseflow management appears to require a comprehensive case processing system that identifies and maintains information on all cases from entry into the process of disposition...This research gives us a better grasp of the complexities of controlling case processing and reducing delay."
Rubio, Dawn, Fred Cheesman, and William Federspiel. Performance Measurement of Drug Courts: The State of the Art. (July 2008). Statewide Technical Assistance Bulletin, Volume 6. This Bulletin updates the volume published in 2004 that described the methodology used by the NCSC to develop Statewide Performance Measurement Systems (SPMSs) for the drug courts of several states.
Court Performance Standards Project: Volunteering for Justice. (2003). Raleigh, NC: Administrative Office of the Courts This two-page brochure explains the court performance standards in North Carolina and includes information on volunteering programs.
Mental Health Court Performance Measures (MHCPM). MHCPM is a set of 14 performance measures that offers court managers and administrators a tool to monitor the performance of mental health courts.
Chatters, Jake. Defining Operational Successes: Measuring the Performance of a Court's Front-Line Staff. (2009). Future Trends in State Courts.

Court performance measurement systems are vital for management and planning. But "front-line" measurement of day-to-day is equally vital for improving court performance.

Casey, Pamela. Defining Optimal Court Performance: The Trial Court Performance Standards. (November 1998). Court Review, Winter 1998 Eleven years ago twelve individuals from the court community met for the first time in Arlington, Virginia, to discuss the fundamental responsibilities of courts. The fruits of their discussion, the Trial Court Performance Standards, articulate the fundamental purposes of courts and offer the court community a way of communicating with each other and their constituents about the work of courts.
Goldkamp, John et al. Developing an Evaluation Plan for Community Courts: Assessing the Hartford Community Court Model. (2001). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Crime and Justice Research Institute This fifty-one page pdf file is organized into several sections -- an introduction with information on the Midtown Community Court Prototype, which was a model for the Hartford Community Court Model; the development of the Hartford court; major components of the court model including target populations, community involvement, and screening participants; implementation and start-up of the court; and an overall evaluation of the Hartford Community Court Model.  
Ostrom, Brian and Roger Hanson. Efficiency, Timeliness, and Quality: A New Perspective from Nine State Criminal Trial Courts. (June 2000). National Institute of Justice - Research in Brief This brief attempts to illustrate that timeliness and judicial quality are not incompatible but, in fact, can be achieved.
John Goerdt with Chris Lomvardias, Geoff Gallas, and Barry Mahoney. Examining Court Delay: The Pace of Litigation in 26 Urban Trial Courts, 1987. (1989). 154 pages. With data from 26 urban trial courts, this report presents the most broadly based empirical evidence ever collected regarding the extent and nature of court delay. This study shows that several courts provide a relatively expeditious pace of litigation and are within 10 percent of meeting the American Bar Association (ABA) disposition time standards.
Schauffler, Richard. Judicial Accountability in the US State Courts: Measuring Court Performance. (June 2007). Utrecht Law Review 3, no. 1

An examination of the current efforts at performance measurement in the state courts, situated in a global and historical context.

Rubin, H. Ted. Juvenile Justice Systems Are Issuing Accountability Report Cards to Their Communities. (2006). Future Trends in State Courts.

Report cards inform communities on how well their juvenile justice systems are working. More and more courts will be developing and publishing these accountability measures in the future.

Nafisi, Terry. One Hundred Years Since Pound: Has Court Reform Mattered?. (2006). Justice System Journal (Vol. 29, No. 1).

This article serves to outline some of the issues associated with delay in Italian courts and to consider whether American courts' solutions for delay might be helpful for Italian courts and in countries with similar problems. 


Doerner, John and Ingo Keilitz. Performance Measurement and Management in State Supreme Courts and Intermediate Courts of Appeals. (2009). Future Trends in State Courts.

This article describes performance measurement and performance management in state appellate courts.

Hewitt, William E., Brian Ostrom, and Richard Schauffler. Performance Measurement Gains Momentum Through CourTools. (2006). Future Trends in State Courts.

From the one-judge/two-magistrate Morrow County Court of Common Pleas in Ohio to the trial courts of Washington, from statewide policy initiatives of the judicial branch in Arizona, California, North Carolina and Utah to locally imposed “audits” by county funding authorities in Lake County, Indiana, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, performance measurement in courts is an important, rapidly emerging trend.

Keilitz, Ingo. Smart Courts: Performance Dashboards and Business Intelligence. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts.

Performance dashboards are becoming the preferred way court systems and individual courts monitor, analyze, and manage their performance. They are the "face" of business intelligence designed to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time.

The Public Image of Courts: Highlights of a National Survey of the General Public, Judges, Lawyers, and Community Leaders. (1978). 307 pages. Yankelovich, Skelly and White, Inc. for NCSC, United States Justice Department, and National Institute of Law Enforcement. "The report that follows presents preliminary findings from the first comprehensive national survey of public attitudes toward courts and justice."
Trial Court Performance Standards and Measurement System Program Brief. (1997). Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Justice This document provides policymakers and court officials with an overview of the development, testing, and implementation of TCPS.
Casey, Pamela et al. Trial Court Performance Standards Desk Reference Manual. (Spring 2003). Research Division. This reference manual provides examples of court programs and initiatives that address each of the Trial Court Performance Standards within five performance areas: access to justice; expedition and timeliness; equality, fairness, and integrity; independence and accountability; and public trust and confidence.
Casey, Pamela. Trial Court Performance Standards Implementation Profiles. (2003).

Provides implementation profiles on how California, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia are using the Trial Court Performance Standards.

Trial Court Performance Standards with Commentary. (1997). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice This summary document covers the 22 performance standards and provides an excellent starting point for individuals and courts contemplating an assessment of court performance.
Slayton, David. Using Performance Measures to Enhance Fair and Impartial Courts: A Practitioner's View. (2008). Future Trends in State Courts.

From maintaining open court sessions to publicly releasing judicial opinions, courts have long had an obligation to promote transparency. However, a shift toward increased transparency in the court system is occurring, forcing courts to become more accountable. This shift should not be viewed as a threat to judicial independence, but rather as a means to secure it.

Performance Measurement Internationally

Albers, P. Evaluating Judicial Systems: A Balance Between Variety and Generalization. (May 2003). European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice
How To Assess Quality in the Courts. (March 2006). Quality Benchmarks for Adjudication are a means for the Improvement of the Activity of the Courts.  The Court of Appeal of Rovaniemi, Finland.
International Framework for Court Excellence. (2008). The International Consortium for Court Excellence developed the International Framework for Court Excellence (IFCE)  as resource for assessing a court’s performance against seven detailed areas of court excellence and provides clear guidance for courts intending to improve their performance. The IFCE represents the product of an international attempt to identify a process for achieving court excellence regardless of the location or size of a court or the resources or technology available to it.

State County Specific

Coleman, Rick, et al. A Performance Audit of the Timeliness of Civil Cases in District Court. (April 2005). This report evaluates the case timelines of civil cases filed in Utah district courts.  It was prepared as a result of legislative interest.
Accountability Through Measurement. (2005). Lubbock County (TX) Judicial Branch This report contains the results of this county's first round of court performance measurement, along with management recommendations for action based on the results.
Brewer, Hon. David. Appellate Court Performance Measurement: Transforming Processes and Building Trust in the Oregon Court of Appeals. (2010). Future Trends in State Courts.

In an era when technological and cultural changes are abound, courts must keep pace or risk the erosion of public trust and confidence. The deployment of modern case management systems that facilitate the objective measurement of institutional court performance over time is a bulwark in the defense of public justice.

Court Performance Measures. Minnesota Judicial Branch - Fourth District Performance measures.
DiPietro, Susanne. Evaluating the Court Process for Alaska's Children in Need of Aid. (2008). Justice System of Journal (Vol. 29, No. 2).

The study described in this article was undertaken by the Alaska Court System's Child in Need of Aid Court Improvement Committee in 2005. The study described the Alaska Court System's handling of child protection cases, compared that situation to findings from two earlier assessments, and discussed the court's performance in the context of applicable state and federal case-processing standards, including timeliness, efficiency, fairness, treatment of parties, and quality of proceedings.

Morrow County Court of Common Pleas -- Court Evaluation. (October 2005). NCSC Trial Court Performance Standards - CourTools. Documents the performance standards and evaluates the Morrow Cty court on those standards.
New Hampshire`s Performance Evaluation Questionnaire. This is an online version of New Hampshire's Supreme Court Performance Evaluation Questionnaire. 
Performance Measures: Key Results and Measures. (January 2009). This Minnesota report contains the first set of complete results for all eleven Key Results and Measures of Judicial Council.  This report is comprehensive, readable and could be used by other court systems to develop similar products for their own court systems.
Superior Court of Arizona in Yuma County Performance Measures. (2007). Yuma County Superior Court This website reports results for CourTools Measures 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, and 10.
Greacen, John M. The Court Administrator's Perspective: Performance Measurement - A Success Story in New Jersey. (2007). Future Trends in State Courts.

This article focuses on all the details regarding New Jersey’s system which reduces backlogged cases. The system, unique to any other court in the country, has significantly and consistently reduced backlogged cases over several years.

Rubio, Dawn and Fred Cheesman. Wyoming Drug Court Performance Measures Project. (2007).

NCSC designed a Web-based data collection instrument to collect demographic and performance measure date for Wyoming drug courts.