U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Standard and Measures of Court Performance

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
35 pages
This chapter intends to stimulate critical review and experimentation directed not only at the substance of Trial Court Performance Standards (TCPS) -- a milestone in the development of concepts, techniques, and strategies to examine the performance of courts and the justice system -- but also at their application by courts.
TCPS is a comprehensive organizational court performance system that was 10 years in the making. TCPS has significantly advanced the scope of inquiry of performance measurement of the courts and other components of the justice system from one of conceptualization and identification of constructs, variables, and operational definition to one of critical review and evaluation of actual implementation. In contrast to numerous model conceptual approaches to performance measurement and exhortations that promote the idea of court performance measures, the TCPS have specific directions for how it is to be done. Included are the elements of a complete organizational performance measurement system: the abstract concepts or constructs of desired performance, their concrete representations or variables, and the operational definitions and procedures for measuring the variables. Despite their widespread use by courts throughout the United States, TCPS are not well known outside the community of court practitioners. This chapter reviews the constructs, variables, and operational definitions of the TCPS; traces the history of their development; and explores their contribution to knowledge about the performance measurement of courts and other components of the justice system. The terminology and logic of performance measurement -- that of "inputs," "outputs," and "outcomes" -- are then applied to the enterprise of court performance measurement itself, particularly the strategies for the acceptance, adoption, and use of the TCPS in the context of general resistance to organizational performance measures among court practitioners. 12 notes and 45 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000