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November 20, 2023

Court Performance Measurement: A Practice Note for Justice Sector Practitioners

Introduction 

This Practice Note seeks to assist U.S. government justice sector practitioners in reviewing court performance in the context of international development assistance initiatives. The Note was developed with the Justice Sector Training, Research and Coordination Plus Program (JusTRAC+) Community of Practice for Justice Sector Measurement members to answer the following learning questions:

  1. How should practitioners decide which court performance tool to use in specific contexts or to address specific needs of courts?
  2. Should the International Framework of Court Excellence (IFCE) be used as a standard framework for assessing court performance in U.S. government programs?
  3. Which indicators can be used to measure court performance?
  4. How is court performance measured in data poor environments?

The first Section of the Note reviews measurement basics, including the general terminology used in court performance measurement and how court performance is measured based on two primary factors - court efficiency and court quality.

The Section on court efficiency discusses indicators for court performance measurement based on international best-practice approaches and standards. It highlights key aspects of measuring court efficiency, including the timeliness of pending cases and overall judicial proceedings, and workload and court productivity analysis, among others.

The Section on court quality explains essential factors in measuring the quality of court services as well as the benefits and limitations in using the International Framework of Court Excellence as a framing standard for measuring court quality. It also discusses other key determinants of court quality including the quality of court decisions, access to justice, and user satisfaction, trust and confidence.

The final Section discusses assessment methods and tools for measuring various aspects of efficiency and quality of courts. It discusses quantitative tools such as court performance statistics and perception-based tools such as court user surveys and opinion polls. The section also overviews qualitative tools and methods such as key stakeholder interviews, desk research, and expert assessments. The note provides guidance for using these tools to measure different aspects of court performance.

View the Practice Note