Information Technology Management

Curriculum Guidelines Summary

What Court Leaders Need to Know and Be Able to Do

The five interrelated Information Technology Management Curriculum Guidelines are:

Court Purposes and Processes

Information Technology must honor due process and equal protection, independence and impartiality, and the roles that  courts and  other organizations in the justice system properly play.  For example, technology applications should not give prosecutors better access to information than criminal defense lawyers, either public or private.  Lawyers representing corporations, the wealthy, and the poor and the self-represented all must be served by court technology.

Information Technology encompasses the people who use the system, their interdependent relationships and workflows, the information they provide to the application, and the interdependent but conflicting norms and business rules that guide their actions.  Even in courts implementing therapeutic problem solving paradigms, the judicial process presupposes adversaries and conflicting roles as a means to finding the truth and achieving justice.  As a result, analysis and redesign of caseflow and other work processes that precede implementation necessarily generate conflict.  Court leaders who oversee this process should ensure that it is balanced and that the process and what it produces reflect court purposes and responsibilities.  Alert court leaders understand that technology must support both judicial independence and impartiality -- the proper balance between the branches of government and parties to litigation--  and their interdependence and need to work with others.  They do not allow technology to compromise the judicial process or bedrock political and legal principles.

Vision and Leadership

Leaders with vision understand their court’s current technology capacity and where that capacity can and should be improved.  They set the tone and drive the pace of the system’s use of technology.  They work with others to create strategic vision about the use of technology in the courts and the justice system and a multi-year plan.  If the current budget and staff are not equal to the vision, the courts partner with others to get what is needed to realize the shared vision.

Court leaders of high-performing courts take responsibility for their court’s use of technology and the effectiveness of court applications. Their attention to technology does not ebb and flow, because system design and management are iterative processes that are never completed once and for all.  They oversee technical staff and lead the court and the justice system as challenging, sometimes vexing, technical, political, fiscal, and policy issues are addressed.  The need for leadership is constant.


Every court leader must possess at least a basic understanding of technology, including both its capabilities and its limitations. The line between vision and hallucination is a fine one.  Effective court leaders are realistic about what technology can do, what it will cost, how long it will take to implement, and what is involved in its maintenance and upgrade.

The knowledge required to manage technology and its rate of change is considerable. Court leaders must know the fundamentals and ensure that they, and their technical staff, keep current with how other organizations, including courts, are successfully using technology.

.To establish and to manage expectations about technology, court leaders must know what options exist, how they are being used in courts and other organizations, and how technology is evolving.  Only then can they oversee staff and vendors to ensure that the most appropriate solutions are implemented.  No one can manage what he or she does not adequately understand.

Technology Management

Too often, inadequate management of technology and technical staff cause technology failure.  Poorly run courts do not take full advantage of technology.  Information Technology requires alignment of budget; judge, line, and technical staff and their training; equipment; and caseflow and other business processes.  People, budgets, workflows, and applications cannot go in their own separate directions.

Application of technology to court and justice operations requires that court and justice system partners work together and at a high level of detail.  Automation imposes greater structure on business processes and information exchange requiring communication and collaboration to avoid unproductive conflict.

For technologists to manage technology, court leaders must manage the technologists, their relationships, and the technology environment.  The technical staff must be competent professionals and work well with others both inside and outside the court.  If not peculiar, good technical staff are different from others in the court.  They speak a different language and seek and sometimes need considerable independence.  Their talents and expertise are, however, absolutely crucial.  Effective leaders know how to align technology and technologists with the court and the justice system.


The work of an organization typically falls into one of two categories: projects and routine operations.  Projects are limited-duration activities with a defined beginning and end.  Operations ensure that case processing and other court functions are maintained.  Projects produce new solutions.

Court leaders must encourage, nurture, and manage Information Technology projects.  To do this, while at the same time maintaining current operations, they must deal with budget, project scope, human resources, schedules, financial management, quality, communications, risk, and procurement.  Successful court leaders are creative about finding resources for Information Technology projects.  They build and oversee the staff, the control processes, and the feedback loops needed to deliver high-quality products on time and within budget.

Click on each of the five Curriculum Guidelines to see the associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

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