Monday, August 29, 2011

"How Can We Do It Better?"

New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman talks about the role that the Center for Court Innovation has played over the past 15 years in helping the New York judiciary identify new ways to improve its business.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Judith Kaye on the Center for Court Innovation

In this interview, filmed for our 15th anniversary celebration, we sat down with former New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye at her office at the law firm Skadden Arps. Among other things, Judge Kaye talks about testing the glass holding areas at the Midtown Community Court by taking a hammer to the glass the night before the project opened. She also talks about the importance of public-private partnership and the role the Fund for the City of New York played in getting the Center for Court Innovation off the ground.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Amanda Burden on the Midtown Community Court

New York City Planning Commissioner and former Center for Court Innovation staffer Amanda Burden discusses meeting John Feinblatt for the first time and her work at the Midtown Community Court. These are excerpts from an interview conducted as part of the preparations for our 15th anniversary celebration on October 4th.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

End of an Era?

I just turned off the TV after watching my beloved Arsenal lose at home to Liverpool. It made for painful viewing. The season is only a few games old and already it it feels like hope is lost. Actually, it feels worse than that. It feels a little like the end of an era. At the risk of being melodramatic, the poor start to the season, combined with the departure of Arsenal's best player, Cesc Fabregas, feels like the death blow for an idealistic vision of football crafted by Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger. Contrary to the established way of doing things in England, in recent years Wenger has assembled a bunch of young, small and technically-adept players from a diverse array of nations. His team plays arguably the most attractive football in the country, full of intricate movement and goals from unexpected angles. But for the past six years, Arsenal has wilted down the stretch and finished without a trophy. The conventional wisdom from the pundits and bloggers has been that Arsenal will never win unless Wenger changes his approach and brings on older, bigger and more defensive players. Every fiber in my body wants Wenger to be right and his critics to be proven wrong. Alas, even my faith in the manager has been shaken of late. Unless something changes dramatically, I think we are witnessing the end of Wenger's grand utopian scheme -- and perhaps the end of Wenger as manager as well.

I often try to learn management lessons from the world of sport, but I'm not sure what to make of all this. Sadly, Arsenal is beginning to remind me of the Spider-man musical on Broadway, which I saw in previews with Julie Taymor still at the helm. That show, which deserved all of the criticism it received in my opinion, felt like the product of hubris unbound. It seemed like there was no one involved in the production with the common sense and authority to tell Julie Taymor that her more outlandish ideas (like dedicating the second half of the show to a character other than Spider-man) made no sense. Arsenal under Wenger are apparently suffering from the same problem. So maybe the lesson is about the importance of staying humble, balancing idealism with pragmatism, and being willing to make mid-course adjustment to grand plans if they start to go off the rails.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flashback to 1998

Today's dip into the Center for Court Innovation vault is a photo from 1998 of John Feinblatt and Jonathan Lippman accepting the Innovations in American Government Award from Susan Berresford of the Ford Foundation and David Gergen of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. I wasn't in attendance that day because the ceremony happened the same week that my daughter Hannah was born. I remember coming back to work following my brief paternity leave and feeling as though the Center had made an important leap forward -- that our small, start-up enterprise had reached a new plateau in terms of respectability. Another highlight from the Innovations Award was the New York Times coverage, which featured this classic quote from then-New York State Chief Judge Judith Kaye: "I'm sailing. I'm flying. When I heard the news, I put down the phone and had to do a couple laps around the courthouse."

As an added bonus, here is a link to a video that captures Feinblatt and Lippman's presentation to the Innovations in American Government award committee.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From the Archives

Today's shot from the archives comes from the opening of the Harlem Community Justice Center in 2001 and features former chief judge of New York Judith S. Kaye, current chief judge Jonathan Lippman and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The press release for the event quotes the Mayor saying: "The opening of the Harlem Community Justice Center marks a new step in the resurgence of this proud, historic community. New York City's progress in modernizing our court system communicates the importance and essential dignity of the legal process. But it is not just the building itself, but the innovative practices that will occur inside that will help New York City retain its status as the pre-eminent local law enforcement community in the nation." Ten years later, the Justice Center has gone a long way towards living up to this hype.

Design Like You Give a Damn

Design Like You Give A Damn 2, a new book on architectural design for social change, will feature a section on the Red Hook Community Justice Center. The book isn't quite done yet, but I've seen drafts and it looks lovely. Available for pre-order from Amazon here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Celebrating Our History

In the run up to our 15th anniversary celebration on October 4th, I thought I'd comb through our archives and release an interesting photograph highlighting the history of the Center for Court Innovation every few days or so. Today's photo highlights two of my favorite former Center colleagues: Greg Steinberg and Eric Lee. If memory serves, Greg and Eric are pictured at Windows World Open 1995, where the Midtown Community Court was awarded a prize for public sector technology innovation.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ch-Check It Out

I've just returned to New York after a week's vacation in California. I spent the first part of the week in Santa Cruz, where my wife gave a paper at a Dickens conference. (I am currently reading Great Expectations as part of the eternal English seminar that is my marriage.) This was followed by a couple of days in San Francisco where, among other things, I had perhaps the best dim sum I've ever tasted.

While I was gone, the month of July ended on a good note for the Center for Court Innovation. We had lots of proposals and progress reports to crank out and thankfully Jill and the development team were able to meet that challenge. We also had a number of news hits. Here are a sample:

Chris Watler of the Harlem Community Justice Center is quoted in a Wall Street Journal article on Mayor Bloomberg's new plan to improve the life prospects of young men of color in New York City.

The New Orleans Tribune is one of several papers to cover the release of the national drug court evaluation we did with the Urban Institute and RTI International.

Bronx Community Solutions' work with young offenders was covered in the Daily News.

A New York Times blog covered the reaction of our Crown Heights team to the documentary film "The Interrupters."

Coming back from vacation has its challenges, but it is always easier to return to good news...

PS -- Here is a link for anyone with lots of money to burn who would like to get me an early birthday present.