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NCJ Number: 82499 Find in a Library
Title: State Court System Unification
Journal: American University Law Review  Volume:31  Issue:2  Dated:(Winter 1982)  Pages:273-289
Author(s): H O Lawson
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 17
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article contrasts the structural and administrative unification achieved by the court system, focusing on the increased use of State funding and its impact on State court reform. The merits of unification are also examined.
Abstract: Structural unification means the consolidation of all trial courts and trial court jurisdiction into one court. Ten jurisdictions have achieved structural unification. The major element of administrative unification appears to be State funding of all or a substantial portion of judicial system operations. Only 5 of the 10 jurisdictions defined as structurally unified -- Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota -- meet the criteria for administrative unification. In contrast, 14 of the 19 jurisdictions that meet the criteria for administrative unification are not structurally unified. The accelerated pace of State funding of trial courts is a significant factor in State court unification and is likely to result in more administratively, unified State judicial systems. This will be brought about by the desirability of having a separate personnel system for nonjudicial employees, the need to comply with State accountability requirements, and the need to cope with more sophisticated budgeting processes. However, structural unification is not likely to increase as it is too expensive and politically unfeasible. Critics of administrative unification argue that it provides an outmoded and closed administrative organization that lacks the flexibility and rational structure to meet current demands, that centralization stifles local initiative, that uniform rules restrict trial courts and do not allow for local differences, that such systems are not responsive to trial court needs, etc. Many of these concerns are unfounded but should be addressed as they indicate pitfalls to be avoided and provide a different perspective for future studies. Footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Court reform; Court reorganization; State aid; State court unification
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