Purposes and Responsibilities of Courts

Interdependence and Leadership

Curriculum Guideline Five

The “contriving” American constitutional structure gives the judiciary’s relationship with its co-equal partners a distinctive flavor.  Court leaders must be both independent and cooperative. They must be above the fray even as they build and maintain boundaries and seek and achieve public trust and confidence. Court leaders have passion for justice and court purposes and responsibilities, and bring pride to everyday routines and jobs.  They require ethical conduct and ensure that the court’s integrity is pure.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Skill in leading the third branch and the justice system and in engaging the judiciary, the public, and the other branches in collaborative problem solving and needed change;

  • Skill in working effectively with the leaders of the other branches without sacrificing the judiciary’s independence and impartiality and in drawing the line between judicial autonomy and judicial independence;

  • Ability to balance judicial independence, the inherent powers of the courts, and impartial judicial case processing and decisions with the judiciary’s need to cooperate with others;

  • Ability to focus staff and judges on issues which will impact the court’s purposes and responsibilities, its core processes, and justice system issues;

  • Ability to be committed, passionate, courageous, and energetic about court purposes and responsibilities and the courts as institutions;

  • Ability to recruit, hire, and educate staff to maintain the court’s independence, impartiality, and integrity;

  • Skill in instilling in court staff an understanding of the role, purposes and responsibilities of courts, how they guide their everyday work, and why court management is a high calling;

  • Knowledge of ethics and conflict of interest concepts, regulations and laws that constrain lawyers, judges, and court managers, including the ABA Code of Professional Conduct (for lawyers), the ABA Canons of Judicial Ethics (for judges), the Federal Code of Conduct, and the NACM Model Code of Ethics for Court Managers;

  • Ability to inspire others in the court family to act and to appear to act with high ethical standards, before, during, and after the court day; 

  • Ability to lead the judiciary and the justice system and to take risks to fulfill the role of courts and justice.

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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