The Legislature created the Court Management and Advisory Board (“CMAB”) in 2003 as an independent group of professionals who could bring management expertise, knowledge and experience to bear on the challenges facing the court system. The CMAB reports it findings to the Justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, leaders of the Legislature as well as the Chief Justice and the Court Administrator of the Massachusetts Trial Court.
BBA Week spoke with advisory board member Glenn Mangurian about the most recent report.
Q: What are the main findings of the Advisory Board’s report?
Mangurian: Over the past 11 years, the Massachusetts Trial Court has been on a difficult but essential journey as it seeks to transform itself from an unevenly-performing, decentralized, often autonomous set of “islands of justice”, managed according to anecdote, intuition and habit, to a consistently high-performing system, managed according to modern best practice disciplines.
The Massachusetts Trial Court is on the move and headed in the right direction. The Trial Court is addressing the consequences of the fiscal crisis of 2008-2012, and implementing and adapting to the structural changes made by the 2011 court reform legislation. Court management is “under the spotlight”. This focused attention to management “raises the bar” on execution excellence and follow-through at all levels.
The Trial Court must confront additional challenges such as the growing importance of specialty courts to address evolving judicial needs of the public and the scarcity of resources. Regardless of court funding levels, the public expects to be treated with respect and dignity in our courts, and to have its business handled in an expeditious and orderly manner.
The Trial Court “has a lot on its plate” for the next five years. The recent partial restoration and relative stability of the essential funding of the Trial Court is having a significant impact on court management and is important to further court management improvements.
Q: What do you see as an important call to action as a result of these findings?
Mangurian: The 21st century Trial Court requires increased cross-disciplinary teamwork, active learning and innovation, and expansive talent and leadership development. To assist the Trial Court in solidifying the progress made to date and preparing for the management challenges that lie ahead, the CMAB believes the Trial Court should focus leadership responsibility and overall accountability in three areas:
- Knowledge management and decision analytics
The Trial Court should concentrate significant management attention on policy development, best practice sharing and training related to all aspects of evidence-based, data-driven decision-making.
- Experience of court users
The Trial Court should work to improve the experience of court users having a wide range of perspectives, issues and concerns, and to measure the courts’ performance in this regard over time.
The building of the Trial Court’s leadership capacity and human capital is of critical importance to the quality, strength, flexibility and resilience of our justice system. Because of an aging workforce and the prospects of increased retirements, there is a growing need to cultivate the next generation of court leaders to ensure continued judicial excellence into the future.
In addition the CMAB recommends the SJC establish a regular and recurring schedule of strategic and operational oversight meetings with the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the Court Administrator.
Q: How would you encourage BBA members to use this information?
Mangurian: The BBA has long been an advocate for the judicial funding. The Court Management Advisory Board thanks you for your support of the Trial Court.
We encourage all members to read the report. The report can be accessed here.
The document should serve as a catalyst for conversations among members and with employees of the Trial Court. The CMAB is planning an open discussion with the BBA on the report and work of the CMAB. Stay tuned for the specific date, time and location.