September 14, 2007

New judicial program helps fill upcoming void in court system

California courts are facing an impending personnel crisis and a new course offered by Sacramento State may help avert it.

This semester, the Department of Public Policy and Administration began offering a graduate level judicial administration program. The program is expected to help provide the next generation of court executive officers throughout the state.

“Studies have shown that in the next 10 years, about 75 percent of the court system’s upper management, most of who are baby boomers, will go out the door and into retirement,” says Ken Torre, director of the Judicial Administration Programs. “This program will allow us to have a succession plan.”

Torre says the program is designed for anyone who has a bachelor’s degree and works with the courts. Judicial employees who are not enrolled in the University can earn a certificate in judicial administration after completing a four-course sequence consisting of classes in court governance and operations, court management, court leadership and emerging issues in judicial administration. Students enrolled in the Department of Public Policy and Administration’s master’s program can earn a concentration in the field by taking three of those courses.

“There is training through the administrative office of the courts, but that is more on-the-job training,” says Professor Ted Lascher, immediate past chair of the Department of Public Policy and Administration. “This program will expose students to the highest level of court administration and will help lead them to higher career positions by blending a strong academic emphasis with practical and pragmatic exercises.”

Torre says he initially expected about a dozen people to apply but soon realized, the demand was higher than expected. “We have 29 people in this class and we had to turn people down.”

Lascher say the demand has become acute because of increasing complexity of the court systems, a greater number of court responsibilities and a lack of formal training opportunities for CEOs.

“There really wasn’t an academic training program for them and that was a concern for the courts. The Judicial Administration Programs are among few of their type in the nation, and almost nothing comparable is offered in the entire western part of the United States,”

Classes are held at the Sacramento Administrative Office of the Courts Northern/Central Regional Office, 2880 Gateway Oaks Drive, on Fridays and Saturdays for four semesters. Classes are six hours long and are held on Fridays and Saturdays.

“This shows that the program has the support of the court executive officers,” says Torre. They are rearranging schedules, giving time off and in some cases providing financial support for participants.”

For more information, contact the Master’s Program in Public Policy and Administration at (916) 278-6557. For media assistance, contact the Sacramento State Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.