The Court Administration Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice*

By Hartmus, Diane M. | Justice System Journal, May 1, 2005 | Go to article overview

The Court Administration Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice*


Hartmus, Diane M., Justice System Journal


John Jay College of Criminal Justice has an undergraduate and graduate program in court administration in its Department of Public Management. The program is the only one of its kind housed in a liberal arts college dedicated to education, research, and service in the areas of criminal justice, public safety, and public service. This article describes the program at John Jay College and discusses the courses offered in the program, course content, and future plans for the program.

The role of a court administration program in a liberal arts college is multifaceted, because it both trains future court administrators and introduces to the profession students who may never work in the courts. Thus, it can serve as a vehicle to increase understanding of our court system and the role administration plays in the courts. In serving students who do go on to work in the court, it begins their training in court administration and serves to introduce them to the issues in the field, while encouraging them to work on improving the administration of the courts and restoring public confidence in the courts.

John Jay College's court administration program was created under the direction of Professor Nesta Gallas. The program had diminished in the years since she had retired, but it had an already established footprint. In 1994, when I was working in Washington, D.C., as an attorney at the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, I was asked to come to the college to build the court administration concentration. As a lawyer and former law clerk to a federal district court judge, I brought to John Jay College's program an understanding of the role of the lawyer and the judge in the courtroom. As an administrator working with federal judges and court administrators from all over the country, I brought an understanding of the administrative issues courts face every day, as well as an appreciation for the roles judges and court administrators play in the management of the courts. I was free to reformulate course content to fit my vision of the program, but I did need to work within the established course structure. My vision for the program has revolved around two core ideas: to teach students about the way courts work and to engage them in a critical discussion of the role of courts in society. While I am happy when my students go on to work in the court system, job placement is not the main focus of my teaching.

THE COURT ADMINISTRATION PROGRAM

The college's mission is to endow students with the skills of critical thinking, creative problem solving, and effective communication and to develop graduates who have the intellectual acuity, moral commitment, and professional competence to confront the challenges of crime, justice, and public safety in a free society. The court administration program at John Jay College is offered as a concentration to the approximately 230 undergraduate students who major in public administration; these students take courses in budgeting, personnel management, technology, and ethics and two courses specializing in court administration. At the graduate level, in a Master of Public Administration program with over 450 students enrolled in 2004-05, the concentration in court administration provides a student with a significant skill set in basic management skills plus an introduction to the special issues facing court administrators.

THE UNDERGRADUATE CURRICULUM

The undergraduate court administration program consists of two specialized coursesan upper-level introductory course, Court Administration, and the advanced, more specialized Contemporary Administration and the Judiciary. The principal objective of the first course is to introduce students to the "other side of the courtroom," to get them to look beyond the lawyers and judges depicted on television so dramatically, and to see the side of the courthouse that makes all that courtroom drama possible-the people and the systems that make the courthouse run.

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