October 2, 2000



October 2, 2000 Eileen Fox, 271-2646

Early in September, the justices of the supreme court contacted the National Center for State Courts for assistance in conducting an operational review of the court's case processing practices. The Center has agreed to conduct the review and to assist in applying for funding for the project from the State Justice Institute. A full review will take place following a strategic planning retreat of the justices in New Hampshire on November 2nd and 3rd which will be facilitated by Ms. Penny Wentland, Senior Management Consultant with the NCSC, as part of the NCSC technical assistance.

Ms. Wentland will conduct a two-day site visit to the court at the end of October in preparation for the retreat. She will meet with the justices at the retreat to discuss their goals and direction for the court. Ms. Wentland has conducted and participated in similar projects with the Nevada and Wisconsin Supreme Courts and with the Louisiana Court of Appeals.

After the retreat, a project team consisting of Ms. Wentland and an outside consultant, with expertise in the area of supreme court operations and workflow, is expected to conduct a five-day visit of the court and interview the justices, clerk of court, deputy clerks, staff attorneys, law clerks and the entire staff of the supreme court to get a firsthand understanding of the current practices employed in the processing of cases. The team will document the work process in each of the chambers, the flow of opinion production and the interaction of the decision-making process with other components of case management.

Upon completion of the visit to the court and compilation of an initial report, the team will provide to each justice a workflow of his or her personal case management practices for additional comment. The team will then prepare a draft report with recommendations for operational improvements. The team will meet with the justices as a group again to discuss the draft report and make plans for implementation.

The justices are hopeful the entire process, once initiated, can be completed within a two- or three-month period. In light of recent events and the extraordinary number of cases awaiting argument and decision, this type of realistic analysis is absolutely essential so that existing resources are used as efficiently as possible and so that the need for any additional resources or changes in procedure can be fully explored and identified.

The justices are determined to decide cases as expeditiously as possible consistent with the need to produce decisions of the highest quality.

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