Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Robyn McDougle

Second Advisor

Richard Vacca

Third Advisor

Henry Brownstein

Fourth Advisor

Mark Christie


State court systems function in much the same manner as any other government agency in terms of organization and management to utilize public resources in order to provide a public service. The question posed in the late 19th century was whether the courts should be organized and managed as they had been for centuries as local entities locally controlled and operated or transferred to the state level. The desired end was a more efficient use of public resources to achieve faster disposition of cases. This reorganization, called unification, was made up of three individual components: 1) consolidation required the reduction in the number of types of trial court in a state to one or two 2) centralization required the surrendering to the state's chief justice, later the newly created office of state court administrator, all managerial control over these courts, and 3) judicial rulemaking required removing from the legislature the power to create rules of practice and procedure in the courts, instead turning that power over to the courts themselves in the form of judicial councils or later state supreme courts. Unification, relying on principles of scientific management, served as the basis for state court reorganization for nearly a century, however the assumption that consolidation, centralization, and judicial rulemaking would lead to greater levels of efficiency in the courts remained effectively untested. Data for the year 2013 was collected to measure state court efficiency in two ways: case clearance rates (number of cases disposed divided by the number of cases filed) and case clearance rates per judge (number of cases disposed divided by the number of judges). An ordinary least squares regression found no apparent relationship between a state's level of unification and its ability to clear its trial court caseloads.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission