Dave Byers, Director, Administrative Office of the Arizona Courts

Dave Byers, Director, Administrative Office of the Arizona Courts

Yesterday, the Arizona Supreme Court and Administrative Office of the Courts announced the following about Director David K. Byers. Congratulations, Dave!

“The National Center for State Courts (NCSC.org) announced last week that David K. Byers, Director of the Administrative Office of the Arizona Supreme Court, has been named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Warren E. Burger Award for excellence in court administration, one of the highest awards presented by NCSC. Named for the late Chief Justice of the United States, the Warren E. Burger award honors ‘a state court system administrative official who demonstrates professional expertise, leadership, integrity, creativity, innovativeness, and sound judgment,’ according to the Center’s award criteria.”

“‘The award honors court administrative officials who have taken decisive steps to improve the operations of courts at the state or local level that may have application to courts nationwide,’ states the NCSC’s website.”

“‘We are pleased and proud that Dave Byers has been honored with this award. No one could be more deserving,’ said Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch. ‘He has provided excellent support and guidance for the Arizona court system for more than 35 years. He has been creative in finding solutions to the issues that have arisen. His leadership has helped bring national recognition to Arizona’s courts and has improved the administration of justice. He has worked tirelessly to create a responsive, world-class court system. Through NCSC and other national committees, Byers has shared his expertise to benefit court leaders throughout Arizona, the U.S., and abroad.’”

Arizona_Supreme_Court_Seal“As Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, Byers is responsible for overseeing and administering a court system that employs 10,000 people and operates in more than 200 locations; processes more than 2.6 million cases per year; supervises 42,000 adult felons on probation; and has a combined budget from all courts in excess of $550 million dollars. The Supreme Court also oversees the State Bar of Arizona and the discipline process for the state’s 15,000 plus attorneys and 500 judges.”

“NCSC President Mary Campbell McQueen said, ‘Dave Byers serves as a national role model for court leaders everywhere. He has been on the forefront of helping courts remain innovative, effective, and accessible during the recent difficult financial downturn all state courts faced. Dave has been on the forefront in court advancements on issues from implementing e-filing to improving foster care to protecting fair and impartial courts. NCSC is proud to name Dave Byers as our 2013 Burger Award recipient.’”

“In 2012, Byers was honored with the Gabe Zimmerman Leadership Award, which recognizes professional excellence of non-elected officials. The award is named for former Representative Gabrielle Giffords’ director of community outreach, who lost his life in the 2011 Tucson shooting that killed six and injured 12, including Giffords.

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AZ Supreme Court logoToday, I share some news and request for comment from the Arizona Supreme Court. Your input could have an impact on the disposition of future cases as they proceed through Arizona courts.

Here is the news from the Court:

In 2011, the National Center for State Courts published the “Model Time Standards for State Trial Courts.” These standards for the disposition of cases in the state courts were developed and adopted by the Conference of State Court Administrators, the Conference of Chief Justices, the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and the National Association for Court Managers.

Model case processing time standards provide a reasonable set of expectations for courts, lawyers and the public. Part of the vision for Arizona’s Judicial Branch, as set forth in its Justice 2020 Strategic Agenda, is to strengthen the administration of justice. Timely justice promotes public trust and confidence in the courts. The establishment of case processing time standards emphasizes the need for judicial officers and court personnel to renew focus on this essential part of their work.

The Arizona Supreme Court Case Processing Standards Steering Committee is gathering input and feedback from all key justice partners regarding the establishment of case processing standards for Arizona courts.

Steering Committee Preliminary Recommendations

The Steering Committee has completed a review of the national time standards, statutory requirements, court rules, court jurisdiction and other relevant factors in the development of case processing standards for Arizona. The preliminary recommendations for case processing standards in the superior, justice and municipal courts have been posted on the link below and you are invited to post your comments. Please feel free to share this website with members of the legal community in your jurisdiction.

Comment Period

The comment period runs through March 29, 2013. The Steering Committee will review the comments posted on the website and make the appropriate revisions to the proposed case processing standards. A final draft of the proposed case processing standards will be presented to the following standing committees for recommendation to the Arizona Judicial Council: Committee on Superior Court; Limited Jurisdiction Committee; Committee on Juvenile Courts; Commission on Victims in the Courts; and Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence in the Courts.

Submit Your Comments Online Here.

The link above will take you to the registration page. To view the case processing standards webpage you will need to register first. Click on register and complete the information on the page. If you have previously registered on the website enter your username and password.

For more information contact:

Committee Staff:

Cindy Cook at ccook@courts.az.gov

“Funding Justice: Strategies and Messages for Restoring Court Funding”This month, a useful document was released by two organizations committed to a strong and fully funded judiciary. We’ll see if it makes a conceptual difference in the contentious nationwide fight over court funding.

“Funding Justice: Strategies and Messages for Restoring Court Funding” was authored by Justice at Stake and the National Center for State Courts.

The report is refreshingly detailed and focused on strategies (placing that word in a report’s title is never a guarantee that the authors will provide any; these authors do). As the authors say, “The guide is entirely based on a nationwide opinion research project that included focus groups, a poll of American voters, and interviews with chief justices, legislators, and others closely involved in debates around court funding.” And at least a portion of the recommendations arose out of focus groups held in Phoenix in February 2012 (so you may have been a part of the research).

National Center for State Courts logoYou can read and download the entire report here.

I appreciated Gavel Grab’s summary and analysis of the report. Author Peter Hardin also includes links to news stories about the courts’ budget crisis.

Hardin also points us to another post worth a look (for detail and extreme candor): this blog post out of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System. There, Bert Brandenburg (Executive Director of Justice at Stake) and Jesse Rutledge (Vice President for External Affairs at the National Center for State Courts) explain their thinking in how they crafted the report. Their exposition reveals an awareness of the value of political nuance.

Justice at Stake_logoAs Brandenburg and Rutledge explain:

“[The report] advises, for example: ‘Focus on harm to taxpayers and the economy—not damage to the courts.’ It underscores the idea that ‘It’s not about you. It’s about them.’

“[It] also warns against adopting a message that ‘[c]ourts are a ‘separate and co-equal’ branch of government and thus should be treated with greater respect in the budget process’ because it ‘falls on deaf ears with the public,’ the guide says. What’s more, ‘Americans overwhelmingly felt that the courts should not get special treatment, and the judiciary should be expected to tighten its belt—like everyone else.’”

I think the report reflects a deep understanding of the crisis and the persuasive challenge that court supporters face. Feel free to pass it on to anyone who would benefit from it. And let me know whether you think this tool is likely to make a bigger impact in the conversation than approaches from the past.