Academic journal article Justice System Journal

Icm and Court Administration: The First Thirty-Five Years*

Academic journal article Justice System Journal

Icm and Court Administration: The First Thirty-Five Years*

Article excerpt

The thirty-fifth anniversary of the creation of the Institute for Court Management (ICM) provides an opportunity to reflect on the institute's historical roots and review the institute's programs, as they exist today. This article attempts to provide a framework for understanding the institute's current curriculum and to provide prognosis for the future of that curriculum.

While no single indicator can signal the breadth and importance of the institute's activities across the years, nor measure the institute's impact on the field of court administration, the Fellows of ICM's Court Executive Development Program (CEDP) draw our attention. One becomes a Fellow upon graduation from CEDP, the centerpiece program of ICM. Across some thirty-five years, there are now just over 1,000 Fellows. These Fellows include many of those recognized throughout the United States as leaders and innovators in court administration. They are ICM's own.


In 1969 then Chief Justice Warren E. Burger gave a speech before the ABA calling for trained court administrators. As a result of that speech, the ABA formed a task force and charged it with developing an educational program for court managers. The task force effort, funded by a grant from the Johnson Foundation of Racine, Wisconsin, led to both the establishment of the Institute for Court Management and the basic design for the Court Executive Development Program's initial curriculum. Ernest C. Friesen, Jr., was named the institute's first executive director, and the College of Law at the University of Denver was selected as the base of operations. Later, Friesen reduced his key ideas to writing in "A Prospectus; Describing the Essential Elements of a Program to Develop Executive Officers for the Federal and State Courts Within the United States" (1969). The program's objectives as outlined in the "Prospectus" were to provide court systems and individual courts with managers who would be "thoroughly familiar with the court environment and able to understand their own function within its framework" (Friesen, 1969:1).

Friesen wanted to develop the future court executive in the full context of addressing the needs of the court system as a whole. True to that intent, from the outset, the institute pursued not one but three basic objectives: to increase, store, and disseminate reliable knowledge pertaining to effective and efficient court management; to build acceptance of the court management function and develop the profession of court management; and to improve, through court management, popular satisfaction with the administration of justice.

In 1970 the Institute for Court Management opened its doors and the first class of thirty students was admitted to the Court Executive Development Program. With the May commencement of the class of 2005, the total number of ICM graduates across the years exceeded 1,000, constituting an unbroken line to ICM's beginning three-and-a-half-decades ago.


While the Court Executive Development Program (CEDP) remains the centerpiece of ICM's education, training, and professional development program, ICM today has over thirty partnership programs with state and local courts; the newly developed Court Management Program, which offers workshops on core competencies for middle managers in courts; distance education for all court personnel addressing National Center research and various court-related topics; and specialized programs'and conferences for judicial leaders. Today, more than 2,000 court managers, judges, and other court personnel per year attend ICM's programs. It is worth our while to review these programs, and we begin with the flagship.

Court Executive Development Program. The format of the Court Executive Development Program has actually changed little since the first class, although the particulars of ICM's core program have been updated continually to meet the needs of the court community. …

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