Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jeffrey Apperson, October 4, 2018

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: This is an oral history interview with Jeffrey Apperson, Vice President of International Relations for the National Center for State Courts and Chief Executive Officer for the International Association for Court Administration.

Segment Synopsis: Anu Kasarabada introduces Jeffrey Apperson and begins where a prior interview had ended.

00:00:46 - Western District's international work

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Partial Transcript: Um, and the judges, it sounds like they pried--they tried pretty hard to get you to stay.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes his role in helping to create the Judicial Conference's international relations committee, the role the Kentucky Western Court District played in hosting Croatian delegations, and his experience as a clerk for the committee.

Keywords: Azerbaijan; Congressman Mazzoli; Croatia; International Relations Committee; Judge Charles R. Simpson III; Judge John G. Heyburn; Judge Thomas B. Russell; Judge Wendell Roberts; Mark Ellis; Sister courts

Subjects: District courts--United States—Administration; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judges--United States.; Judicial Conference of the United States. International Judicial Relations Committee; Law clerks; United Nations. Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:15:26 - Relationship with Judge Heyburn

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about, um, Judge Heyburn.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about what he and Judge John G. Heyburn shared in common, including their work together on the Judicial Conference's Budget Committee.

Keywords: Bankruptcy Committee; Judge John G. Heyburn; Judicial Conference Budget Committee; Western District

Subjects: Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judicial Conference of the United States.; Judicial administration--United States; Rogers, Harold, 1937-; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:19:59 - Work on the Budget Committee

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Partial Transcript: So what did being the chair of the Budget Committee mean on a, you know, on a regular basis?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about the work he and Judge Heyburn did in their roles on the Judicial Conference's Budget Committee. He describes the process of developing the judiciary budgets that would be presented to Congress.

Keywords: Budget Committee; Budget formulas; Chief Justice Rehnquist; Congressional budgets; Jim Duff; Judge John G. Heyburn

Subjects: Boggs, Danny Julian, 1944-; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Hogan, Thomas F.; Judicial Conference of the United States; Judicial administration--United States; McConnell, Mitch; Rehnquist, William H., 1924-2005

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:29:13 - Support for the Western District

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Senator McConnell was also on the Appropriations Committee.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes the support the Western District Court had in Congress and on the Sixth Circuit and the opportunities that opened up for the Court.

Keywords: Budgets; Committee chairs; Committees; Finance Committee; Firsts; Independent; Jim Higgins; Judge Danny Boggs; Judge John G. Heyburn; Pilot programs; Priorities; Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER); Representative Hal Rogers; Senator Mitch McConnell

Subjects: Boggs, Danny Julian, 1944-; Martin, Boyce F., Jr. (Boyce Ficklen), 1935-2016; McConnell, Mitch; Rogers, Harold, 1937-; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:34:22 - Treatment of Judiciary's budget requests

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Partial Transcript: From your bird's eye view of the Budget Committee, how do you think the appropriators treated the Judiciary's requests?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about the relationship between the Judiciary and the other branches on budgetary matters. He recalls the effect of the 2004 recession on the Judiciary budget, and how the branch was able to cope with dramatic budget cutbacks. He also comments on his anti-fee stance, and how fees unnecessarily restrict the public's access to the courts.

Keywords: 2004 recession; Budget Committee; U.S. Congress

Subjects: Judicial Conference of the United States; Judicial administration--United States

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:39:33 - Judge Heyburn's political skills

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Partial Transcript: But he was also, obviously, you know, he had great political skills.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about Judge Heyburn's skill in dealing with interpersonal issues, particularly when re-structuring the Multi-District Litigation Panel (MDL). Apperson also shares how Judge Heyburn approached being chief judge.

Keywords: Budget Committee; Court management; Judge Dave Whalin; Judge John G. Heyburn; Magistrate judges; Personnel issues; Political skills

Subjects: District courts--United States—Administration; Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judges--Selection and appointment--United States; Judicial administration--United States; United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
00:46:00 - Changes to the multi-district litigation panel

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Partial Transcript: Going back to the MDL panel, um, in the last session you'd mentioned the panel's case management system.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about Judge Heyburn's role in restructuring the operations of the multi-district panel, an entity within the Federal Judiciary that had historically operated independently of the rest of the Third Branch.

Keywords: Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF); Case management; Jim Duff; Judge John G. Heyburn; MDL Panel; Multi-District Litigation Panel (MDL)

Subjects: Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judicial administration--United States; United States. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

00:57:47 - Thoughts on Western District Court judges

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Partial Transcript: Um, okay, let's talk about some of the other judges on the Court

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about his relationships with various judges on the Western District Court. He also talks about his and Judge Coffman's views during the transition from manual to electronic records, particularly publicly available records related to criminal defendants.

Keywords: Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF); Case files; Criminal defendants; Judge Allen; Judge Coffman; Judge Gordon; Judge John G. Heyburn; Judge Johnstone; Judge McKinley; Judge Russell; Judge Simpson; Judge Valentine; Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER); Tennis

Subjects: Heyburn, John G. (John Gilpin), 1948-2015; Judges--United States; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:06:51 - Relationship with chief judges

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so did your relationship with judges--was there a difference in them when they were chief judge?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about his experiences interacting with the chief judges of the Western District, who served as his direct supervisors. Apperson comments on the exceptional nature of the close relationships he had with members of the Court.

Keywords: Case files; Judge Coffman; Judge McKinley; Judge Meredith; Judge Russell; Judge Simpson; Meetings; Western District

Subjects: Court administration; Court calendars; District courts--United States--Administration; Judges--United States; Judicial administration--United States; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:13:08 - Hierarchy in the courts

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Partial Transcript: So, so, my impression of the Judicial Branch is that it's pretty hierarchical, right?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about the challenges of working within the Judiciary's institutional culture, which is focused on deference to Article III judges.

Keywords: Communication; Jim Duff; Judge Hogan; Judge John G. Heyburn; Judicial hierarchy

Subjects: Court administration; District courts--United States—Administration; Judges--United States; Judicial administration--United States; Law clerks

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:16:59 - Changes to the clerk position over time

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Partial Transcript: Um, I'm wondering, you know, by the time you left the clerk's role in 2010, how do you think the role had changed, the position had changed from, you know, over that 30 years--or, 20 years?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes how his position as Clerk of Court changed over time to become a "productivity engineer." He talks about how technology changed the Court's work processes and responsibilities and the office's increasingly close ties with the bar association.

Keywords: Bar associations; Digital courts; Outsourcing; Western District

Subjects: Judicial administration--United States; Technology; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)

GPS: Western District Court of Kentucky, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.247194, -85.762457
01:22:15 - Start of Apperson's international work

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Partial Transcript: Uh, let's finally move on to your international work.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about his interest in international court systems and his goal of increasing the capacity for court administration around the world.

Keywords: Case backlogs; Case delays; International Association for Court Administration; International Relations Committee; Judge Simpson; Judicial policies and procedures

Subjects: Albania; Court administration; Court calendars; Croatia; Judicial Conference of the United States. International Judicial Relations Committee; Montenegro; Romania; Slovakia

GPS: Williamsburg (Va.)
Map Coordinates: 37.266320, -76.704846
01:29:14 - Similar problems in courts around the world

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Partial Transcript: Were there other problems that you were identifying as, you know, these are problems that a lot of countries tended to have, that this is a pattern?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson identifies several issues that he has found in court systems around the globe, including training and selection of staff, the disappearance of trials, and a lack of transparency in judicial processes.

Keywords: Adversarial legal systems; Caseloads; Formal trial systems; Judge Brown; Transparency

Subjects: Court administration; Court decisions and opinions; Mexico

01:35:52 - Creating the International Institute of Justice Excellence

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Partial Transcript: So now I've actually--but now I'm actually beginning to realize that we need to look at values more closely regarding justice.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson describes the rationale behind the development of the International Institute for Justice Excellence (IIJE), which he envisions as a global conference of judicial councils. Apperson serves as the chair of the IIJE's board of directors.

Keywords: European Network for Judicial Councils; International Institute of Justice Excellence; Judicial conferences; Judicial councils; Outsourcing

Subjects: Court administration; Court decisions and opinions; Hague (Netherlands)

GPS: Hague (Netherlands)
Map Coordinates: 52.086, 4.295
01:45:41 - Stabilizing the National Center of State Courts

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Partial Transcript: When I started, I didn't realize that when I left, um, the nat--when I left the courts, I didn't realize the job I was taking was about to fail.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about the trials and tribulations of the National Center of State Courts (NCSC) during his early tenure, including its impending closure. He describes how his efforts to win new contracts and his re-organization of the NCSC to accept more grant work independent of the federal government.

Keywords: Governance; National Center of State Courts (NCSC); Strategic planning

Subjects: Court administration; Iraq; Jamaica; Judicial administration--United States; Morocco; National Center for State Courts

01:53:42 - Balance of power within governmental institutions

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Partial Transcript: How did the, um, executive power in that situation--

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about how a lack of balance in power in governmental power allows hate to control the resolution of disputes. He mentions first-hand observations in several countries where hate-fueled populism distorted the rule of justice in the absence of a balance of power.

Keywords: Balance of power; Dispute resolution; Hate; Judicial administration; Rule of justice; War crimes courts

Subjects: Bosnia; Rule of law; Rwanda

01:56:27 - Revisiting the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct

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Partial Transcript: Um, you were involved in the creation of the Bangalore Principles?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about his proposal for changes to the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, namely to put accountability first among the principles. In a panel with chief justices of courts around the world, he argued that accountability was the most important factor in a legitimate and credible judicial system. He describes the response of the panel and audience members and where the work stands to date.

Keywords: Accountability; Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct; Constitutional torts

Subjects: Court administration; Judicial administration--United States; National Center for State Courts; Torts

02:03:14 - Accountability in the federal and state courts

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Partial Transcript: How do you see accountability in our judicial system?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about what constitutes accountability in state and federal courts, including his concern about judicial elections and the role of money. He notes the distinction between immunity for judicial opinions and administering staff.

Keywords: Accountability; Constitutional torts; Judicial independence

Subjects: Judges--United States; Judicial administration--United States

02:09:00 - Access to justice issues

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Partial Transcript: Um, uh, kind of, uh, related to that, but in a different way, you know, there are elements of our system that are coming across other types of criticisms.

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about the strengths and weaknesses of how U.S. courts service poor litigants, particularly in civil cases, as well as criminal defendants engaged in plea bargaining. He compares how these issues work in U.S. courts against courts around the world.

Keywords: Access to justice; Discovery; Judiciary; Representation; Wealth disparities

Subjects: Civil law; Court administration; Court decisions and opinions

02:15:36 - How politics affects the judicial appointment process

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Partial Transcript: How do you see all of this playing out about what the federal court's role is in our society?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson talks about how he thinks politics affects the judicial system and judicial appointments. He comments on how the political process may compromise the neutrality of the courts, which then affects the public's view of the judiciary as an institution.

Keywords: Judicial appointments; Judicial neutrality; Politics; Public trust

Subjects: Court administration; Judges--Selection and appointment--United States; Judges--United States; Judicial administration--United States

02:22:21 - Relationship between the branches of government over time

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Partial Transcript: So, you know, looking--thinking about how you've seen the relationship between these branches play out and where it is right now, what's changed?

Segment Synopsis: Apperson shares his thoughts on the balance of powers among the three branches of the U.S. federal government, including how oversight over or within the Federal Judiciary might work.

Keywords: Judicial independence; Oversight

Subjects: Branches of government; Checks and balances in the U.S. government; Judges--Selection and appointment--United States; Separation of powers; United States. Congress.; United States. District Court (Kentucky : Western District)