James D. Gingerich, Director of the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts, recently was named recipient of the Kenneth R. Palmer Distinguished Service Award. The presentation was made during the joint meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) during their annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. The award is presented every other year to a current or former member of COSCA who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and excellence in judicial administration.
“Gingerich has diligently worked not only to improve the justice system at home, but he has contributed his formidable talents in so many ways to COSCA that it would be simply impossible to list them all,” West Virginia State Court Administrator Steven D. Canterbury said in a letter of nomination.
Among his colleagues, Gingerich is considered a “transformative leader,” helping the courts in his state advance in several areas, such as structural and administrative unification, court technology, problem-solving courts, criminal justice sentencing reform, court financing, access to justice, interpreter services, and court security and emergency preparedness. In 2012 he was inducted into the NCSC Warren Burger Society for his volunteer service with the International Programs Division to improve courts in Kosovo and Haiti.
Gingerich served as COSCA president in 2006 at which time he also served as vice-chair of the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors. He was appointed Arkansas State Court Administrator in 1988 and in that capacity, he also serves as the secretary/treasurer of the Arkansas Judicial Council. Originally from Stuttgart, Gingerich received degrees from the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Arkansas School of Law and the University of Bristol, England. He and his wife, Janet, now reside in Conway.
The Palmer Award was created in 2001 and honors Kenneth Palmer, the former Florida State Court Administrator. At the time of his death, Palmer was one of the longest serving state court administrators in the country.
COSCA is comprised of the chief executives of the court systems in each state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. The conference is committed to strengthening the judicial branch by improving the quality of state courts and increasing the public’s trust and confidence in the justice system. COSCA works closely with the Conference of Chief Justices, CCJ, which is made up of the top judicial official from each state and territory. The two associations promote the interests and effectiveness of state judicial systems by developing policies and educational programs designed to improve court operations. Both COSCA and CCJ act as the primary representative of the state courts before Congress and federal executive agencies.
The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. NCSC provides executive secretariat work to COSCA. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.