The Governance of Trial Judges: The Internal Politics of a Judges' Sponsoring Organization
The organization of trial courts is usually considered in terms of its impact on the efficiency of case disposition. This paper focuses on how the organization of a court is a by-product of the relationships that develop among judges and how the resulting organization affects the allocation of resources to different sets of litigants and clients of a court. As a consequence of the manner in which the court is organized, some litigants receive very little court time and less qualified judges while others receive much court time and the services of the court's most experienced judges. Clientele groups such as specialized bars, central city commercial interests, and suburban interests receive services in proportion to their ability to penetrate the judge's sponsoring organization. These conclusions are founded on research about one very large urban trial court (the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois) which has 400 judges and exercises exclusive jurisdiction over all cases in the county arising under state law. The analysis is based on extended interviews with all judges possessing supervisory authority and additional ordinary judges (total n=54), official documents, and media reports. The research puts flesh on the concept of a judge's sponsoring organization and invites comparison with the sponsoring organizations of prosecutors, plaintiff's attorneys, and defense attorneys.
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