Measuring Court Performance

Journal of Judicial Administration, Vol. 16, No. 2, p. 69, 2006

41 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2011

Date Written: September 16, 2006


There is a trend in court administration to focus on the compilation and publication of key performance indicators. Those which relate to matters such as delay and costs involve factors which are both capable of assessment in quantitative terms and which provide information that is useful to the courts and the publication of which serves to enhance the accountability of the courts. However, as “public administration” has become “public management”, expansive claims for the role of performance indicators have been made, verging on pantometry, the belief that everything can be measured. This paper is centrally concerned with the impossibility and undesirability of attempts to measure the “quality” of court processes and judicial determinations. There is no measurable performance indicator for the quality of judicial decision-making. Attempts to measure the “client satisfaction” of litigants are, at best, worthless and, at worst, corrosive of judicial independence and the rule of law. This is one example of a battle for institutional power between managers and professionals like doctors, teachers and judges. This paper sets out examples of the pathology of measurement, where gaming the system creates perverse results.

Suggested Citation

Spigelman, James J., Measuring Court Performance (September 16, 2006). Journal of Judicial Administration, Vol. 16, No. 2, p. 69, 2006. Available at SSRN:

James J. Spigelman (Contact Author)

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