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Research Note: Measuring Trial Court Consolidation

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1992

Trial court consolidation, a key aspect of court unification, and its role in court reform is examined.


The research explores three new indicators of consolidated trial court structure. Data for 1976 were replaced with data from 1987 to update Berkson's index of trial court consolidation. The update revealed that the trend toward consolidation persists. Trial court structure itself emerges as a more straightforward and parsimonious measure of trial court consolidation than Berkson's 4-variable point system. A structural measure is proposed that relates closely to three nonstructural measures of consolidation, namely, proportion of total judges who serve on limited jurisdiction courts, extent of jurisdiction, and concurrent jurisdiction to form an index of trial court consolidation that integrates jurisdictional and structural measures. This index is an improvement, but the coding scheme upon which it is based still calls for some judgment. 1 footnotes, 3 tables, and 19 references

Date Published: January 1, 1992