The administrative responsibilities of chief judges

This is an interesting primer on the administrative and public-facing roles that are expected of chief justices in Australia. As in the United States and other common law countries, the chief justice not only has ordinary adjudicative responsibilities, but also a wide range of administrative duties and an obligation to speak publicly in support of (and sometimes defense of) the court system.

None of this is particularly new or earth-shattering, but it is an excellent reminder of the organizational nature of a court system, and the organizational responsibilities that fall upon court leaders above and beyond their ordinary roles.

Fife et al. on state Chief Justice selection

Madelyn Fife, Greg Goelzhauser, and Stephen Loertscher have posted their article, Selecting Chief Justices by Peer Vote, to SSRN. Here is the abstract:

What characteristics do state supreme court justices prioritize when choosing leaders? At the federal level, collegial court chiefs are appointed or rotated by seniority. A plurality of states permit peer-vote selection, but the consequences of employing this mechanism are not well known. We develop a theory of chief justice selection emphasizing experience, bias, and politics. Leveraging within-contest variation and more than a half century’s worth of original contest data, we find that chief justice peer votes often default to seniority rotation. Ideological divergence from the court median, governor, and legislature is largely unassociated with selection. Justices who dissent more than their peers are, however, disadvantaged. We find no evidence of discrimination against women or people of color. The results have implications for policy debates about political leader selection.

This is a useful study, in that it suggests that state high courts are choosing their chief administrative officers (who are also often the face of the state judiciary) primarily on the basis of experience and interpersonal compatibility. To which I say, good.