Glossary Contents



ADA compliance: Americans with Disabilities Act -- includes the provision of both physical and technological accommodations.


Additional clerks: Appellate court staff that have management responsibilities for a division of the court (i.e., division heads).

Administrative agency appeal: An appeal taken from an executive agency decision.  Examples include workers' compensation or revenue cases.


Administrative authority: the power to make decisions on behalf of the judicial branch of government. 

Administrative head of the judicial branch: entity responsible for making decisions on behalf of the judicial branch.

ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution): procedures for settling disputes by means other than litigation; e.g., by arbitration, mediation, mini-trials. 

            Court-annexed ADR : programs managed by court staff; i.e., the court may refer parties to a particular ADR program, a private ADR provider, or to a roster from which an ADR program or provider can be chosen.  Providers may be in-house court employees,    private providers (paid by the court), or volunteers.  Some courts may also have ADR coordinators that can assist parties throughout the ADR process.


Advisory opinion: A case filed by a state officer or the legislature asking an appellate court for an answer to a question of law.


AOC (Administrative Office of the Court) staff:


      Authorized: Positions that have been approved by the funding body (state legislature,     county board of supervisors, etc.). Typically this is done as part of a budget process or a           midyear budget change request.


      Funded: Positions that have been authorized and funded, thus allowing a person to be     hired for the position.


Appeal by permission: A case that the appellate court can choose to review; the case can be brought from either a final judgment or a non-dispositive interlocutory decision.


Appeal by right: A case that the appellate court must review; the case can be brought from either a final judgment or a non-dispositive interlocutory decision.


Application for writ: A case, such as habeas corpus, mandamus, or prohibition, in which the court is asked to exercise its original jurisdiction to command that an action be taken or not taken.


Bar/judiciary cases: A case involving a dispute over the admission, discipline, or qualification of an attorney or judge.  


CASA/GAL: Court-appointed special guardian/guardian ad litum.


Case alert: A subscription to a case management system for notification of legal action on a case/party/issue.


Case tracking: A subscription to a case management system for notification of events in a specific case.


Certification: A formal testing process for court interpreters typically requiring both oral and written examination.


Certified question: A case, filed by a state or federal court, which asks a state appellate court to interpret or resolve a question of state law that is part of a case before the requesting court.  


CFR (Court of Indian Offenses): these are "federally recognized" courts that were established by the Department of the Interior in 1884.  These courts are held to be instrumentalities of the federal government.

Chief Justice: Administrative head, or highest ranking judge (usually in the Court of Last Resort and Intermediate Appellate Courts). Titles vary by state and jurisdictional level. Other Court of Last Resort titles for this position include Chief Judge (e.g., Maryland Court of Appeals) and Presiding Judge (e.g., Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals).


CIO (Chief Information Officer): The person in the court organization responsible for the information technology (IT) and computer systems that support enterprise goals.


Civil appeal: An appeal taken from a trial court tort, contract, real property, probate, family, or juvenile case.

CMS (Case Management System): Computer-based system used to file, store, and manage case information such as dockets, litigant information, financials, and case events.


COLR (Court of Last Resort): An appellate court that has final jurisdiction over appeals within a state, often referred to as the state supreme court.


Composition: the number of members, by type of member (e.g. judge, lay person, attorney).


Court staff:


      Chief clerk/Trial court clerk: The principal administrative officer of a court who is           generally charged with the administration of the business of the court and the        supervision of the clerk’s office.  Also known as the Clerk of Court.

      Central law staff (appellate courts): Attorneys who are not assigned to a particular        justice or judge.  Their work often includes conducting preliminary reviews of cases to    determine if they should be decided with or without oral argument, preparing            memoranda or draft opinions, or participating in the court’s settlement program.


Criminal (non-death penalty) appeal: An appeal taken from a trial court felony or misdemeanor case.

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Data processing: The entry of case information into the court's case management system.


Death penalty appeal: An appeal or application for writ taken from a criminal case in which the death penalty has been imposed. 


Division: An administrative unit of the appellate court.  The Division acts as its own court with a presiding judge, court administrator, or court clerk that manages the division independently of the court as a whole.


EDMS (Electronic Document Management System): Computer-based system used to file, store, and manage electronic records or documents.


E-filing (Electronic filing): The filing of legal documents, including complaints, motions, discovery documents, orders, notifications, confirmations, etc., in a court case using the Web.

Electronic devices: Laptop and tablet computers, smart phones, and other internet connected devices used by the media within the courtroom to report on the proceedings of the court.

English required: Potential juror must be able to read, speak, and understand English.


External information exchange:


       Electronic real-time: Data transfers that occur without human intervention. Examples    include automated batch reports, automated FTP processes, and automated XML             exchanges.

        Electronic XML: Data transfers that occur through the use of XML-specific data tags.

Funds dedicated to judicial branch: Monies that are set apart for, or devoted to, the judicial branch of government for a specific purpose such as purchasing new technologies or maintaining buildings and grounds.


General Jurisdiction: A trial court having original jurisdiction over all subject matter or persons within its geographic limits except those that may be assigned by law to a special or limited jurisdiction court.

Guardian: An individual or organization named by order of a court to exercise any or all powers and rights over the person and/or estate of an individual.  The term includes conservators and certified private or public fiduciaries.


      Private/professional guardian: A hired private citizen or privately funded organization    that serves as legal guardian.  “Professional,” as applied here, does not imply that the          guardian has been trained or certified.

      Public guardian: An appointed public official or publicly funded organization that serves as legal guardian in the absence of willing and responsible family or friends and/or in the     absence of resources required to employ a private guardian.


IAC (Intermediate Appellate Court): An appellate court that hears appeals from trial courts and administrative agencies as specified by state law or at the discretion of the court of last resort in the state. Decisions of the IAC are generally subject to review by the court of last resort.


Judicial compensation commission: A bipartisan group of people (typically lay persons with public service or business experience, but can include members of the bar, retired judges, or academics) that meet periodically to set the salaries of judicial officers.

      Effect of commission recommendation--Advisory: the commission is tasked with        recommending changes to judicial salaries, but another entity decides the salary           amount.


Judicial Council/conference: A policymaking body within the judicial branch of state government that works to improve the administration of justice. 


Judicial election:


      Non-partisan election: an election in which the candidates are listed on the ballot with     no label designating any party affiliation.


      Partisan election: an election in which the candidates are listed on the ballot along with   a label designating the political party with which that candidate is affiliated.


      Retention election: a periodic process whereby a judge is subject to a referendum.  A     judicial retention vote differs from a regular election in that voters are not asked to          choose from a list of candidates.  Rather, the voter chooses between electing the   incumbent judge to a further term in office; i.e., voting in favor of or against "retention".            The judge's party affiliation is not listed on the ballot, and a judge is deemed to have       been retained if ballots cast in favor of retention outnumber those against, either    absolutely or by a specified margin.

Judicial nominating commission: A bipartisan group of people (primarily members of the legal community, but also including citizens) that review the applications of those seeking a judicial appointment.  Members of the commission conduct interviews with the applicants, assess the qualifications of each, and create a list of names of those they feel are most qualified for the job (the list is given to the appointing authority for the final decision). 

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Legal financial obligations: Monies owed to the court from fees, fines, and court costs.


Limited Jurisdiction: A trial court having legal jurisdiction over only the specific subject matter or persons assigned by law or statute to that court.

Management: Staff that hold senior management positions (e.g., division directors and above).


Ombudsman: The official or semi-official office to which people may come with a grievance connected with the court.


Original proceeding: An action that comes to the appellate court in the first instance.


Performance evaluation (judicial): A formal, ongoing process of assessing a judge's performance in areas such as courtroom demeanor, legal knowledge, and case management.  Evaluations may include self-assessment, peer and constituent surveys, and caseload management reports; results of the evaluations may or may not be confidential.


Presiding judge: A judge in charge of a particular court or judicial district (often at the trial court level). Titles vary by state and jurisdictional level. Also known as chief judge, administrative judge, supervising judge.


Problem-solving court: Courts and special calendars (dockets) that employ the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence, including integration of treatment services with judicial case processing, ongoing judicial intervention, close monitoring of and immediate response to behavior, multidisciplinary involvement, and collaboration with community-based and government organizations.


Public Law 280: Enacted in 1953, Public Law 280 identified six mandatory states where state criminal jurisdiction over offenses by Indians would immediately supplant federal Indian Country criminal jurisdiction. It also identified optional states that were permitted to assume complete or partial jurisdiction over crimes committed by Indians within Indian Country. For more detailed information about the application of Public Law 280, see Carole Goldberg-Ambrose, Planting Tail Feathers: Tribal Survival and Public Law 280 (UCLA American Studies Center: 1997)(with Tim Seward). "As if" under Public Law 280 refers to those land settlement, restoration, and recognition acts that have provided for state jurisdiction "as if" it had been properly assumed under Public Law 280.  There are also states that were delegated similar jurisdiction prior to Public Law 280.


Quasi-judicial officer: A public officer whose acts or duties partake of a judicial character.  Examples include magistrates, justices of the peace, commissioners, hearing officers, and referees.


Retired judges: Judges who have retired from the bench but are available for assignments.


Review (of guardians): Monitoring guardians’ actions which may include reviewing plans, reports, inventories, and accountings of guardians, as well as investigating the well-being of the respondent, proper management of the estate, and enforcing guardianship orders.


Standing committee: A permanent forum, created by the judicial council/conference, to which a group of people are assigned and tasked with reporting and/or acting upon a particular issue.

      Role—advisory: the standing committee is tasked with providing information on a            specific topic to another entity so that that entity can make informed decisions on the    topic. 


      Role--policy making: the standing committee is tasked with creating a management       plan regarding a specific topic and is authorized to make decisions regarding the topic. 


Temporary judges: Judges that are assigned duties (e.g., cases, hearings) when active judges are not available. Temporary judges may be retired judges or attorneys.


Term of service:


      Term - interim: An amount of time less than the total number of years for which a           judicial officer normally serves.  An interim term is created when there is a temporary            vacancy or during an interval caused by the absence or incapacity of the regular        incumbent.  Similar terminology: unexpired term.


      Term - full: An amount of time determined by constitution, statute, or court rule during     which a judicial officer serves.


      Term - retention: An amount of time determined by constitution, statute, or court rule      during which time a judicial officer serves following their initial full term.


      Term - unexpired: An amount of time remaining in a judicial term to be filled due to the   retirement, resignation, or death of an incumbent judge.


Trial court: Generic term for courts where civil actions or criminal proceedings are first commenced at the state level.  As applied here, the term refers to both courts of general and limited jurisdiction and does not imply that the court holds trials.


Tribal justice forums: According to the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA), tribal justice forums may include "traditional forums for dispute resolution, trial courts, appellate courts, alternative dispute resolution systems, and inter-tribal systems established by inherent tribal authority whether or not they constitute a court of record." 


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