Purposes and Responsibilities of Courts

Courts as Institutions

Curriculum Guideline Two

Impartiality and independence demand courts that are separate from the executive and the legislative branches.  But court purposes reflect a rich historical legacy that dictates both distinctive boundaries and interdependency.  Competent court leaders understand separation of powers, judicial independence, and the inherent power of the court.  Alternative organizational arrangements to maintain the courts boundaries and to permit their effective management are likewise known. Direction provided by the Trial Court Performance Standards guides day to day court management.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Knowledge of the Trial Court Performance Standards, their values, and underlying principles: 1) Access to Justice; 2) Expedition and Timeliness; 3) Equality, Fairness, and Integrity; 4) Independence and Accountability; and 5) Public Trust and Confidence;

  • Knowledge of the founders’ theory, the Federalist papers, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, separation of powers, judicial independence, and the parameters and constraints of the inherent powers of the courts;

  • Knowledge of Roscoe Pound’s 1906 ABA speech, “The Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice” and its profound implications for understanding courts as institutions and everyday judicial administration;

  • Knowledge of historical changes in the roles of state and federal supreme courts, intermediate courts of appeal, and trial courts;

  • Knowledge of alternative governance structures for courts, including chief judges, judge committees, and joint public, executive, and legislative branch committees;

  • Knowledge of alternative structures for organizing courts, cases, and calendars;

  • Knowledge of various judicial selection methods and their theoretic and practical impact on the courts and their accountability;

  • Knowledge of the jury system and other public participation and presence in the courts;

  • Knowledge of therapeutic and restorative justice, current alternative approaches such as problem solving courts and alternative dispute resolution for civil and family cases, and their relationship to court purposes;

  • Ability to translate the values inherent to the Declaration of Independence, the Founders Theory, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights into everyday practice.

View the Summary of Purposes and Responsibilities of Courts Curriculum Guidelines or click on each of the other four Curriculum Guidelines to see the associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

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