Chief Justice Jefferson and I, along with Chief Justice Sherry Radack from the 1st Court of Appeals, Bob Wessels from Harris County, and David Slayton from Lubbock, are attending this symposium today and tomorrow in Williamsburg, sponsored by the State Justice Institute and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and hosted by the National Center for State Courts. The topic is state court governance and organization, and we are discussing a set of ten principles of court system governance articulated by the leadership of the Utah state courts, Chief Justice Christine Durham and AOC Director Dan Becker:
1. A well-defined governance structure for policy formulation and administration for the entire court system.
2. Meaningful input from all court levels into the decision-making process.
3. A system that speaks with a single voice.
4. Selection of judicial leadership based on competency, not seniority or rotation.
5. Commitment to transparency and accountability.
6. Authority to allocate resources and spend appropriated funds independent of the legislative and executive branches.
7. A focus on policy level issues; delegation with clarity to administrative staff; and a commitment to evaluation.
8. Open communication on decisions and how they are reached.
9. Positive institutional relationships that foster trust among other branches and constituencies.
10. Clearly established relationships among the governing entity, presiding judges, court administrators, boards of judges, and court committees.
Utah has a very centralized court system that nicely dovetails with these principles. Query how well the highly decentralized Texas system can reflect such principles.