A Question of Ethics

January 25, 2024

Welcome to the latest episode of A Question of Ethics Conversation.  The topic for this discussion is Organization Fairness. The October 26, 2023, Question of Ethics Conversation, hosted by Samantha Wallis, brought up many interesting questions. One set of questions revolved around the concept of fairness.

We are all dedicated to fairness and take it seriously, Canon 1.3 of NACM’s Model Code for Court Professionals speaks to fairness. It reads that the court professional makes the court accessible and conducts his or her business without bias or prejudice. Fairness is mentioned nine different times in the Model Code.

Fairness, however, is subjective. Everyone has their own idea of what is fair.  What I consider fair may not be the same as how you see things. What are the perceptions of fairness in an organization, particularly a court organization?

Employees often express perceptions of fairness, with which we, as managers, might disagree. Although not all employees hold these perceptions, they are common enough that it might be instructive to ask if we, as managers, can craft responses that can convince employees of a different view of fairness. Can we come up with something more than just saying “the organization has determined the following policy is fair, the topic is not up for debate”?

This conversation recounts three specific perceptions that some employees have. The panel will discuss if there is some sort of response that could persuade employees of the validity of a different concept. In essence, is there a response that might change “hearts and minds?”   

  • Perception 1
    A manager needs to be able to perform the desk work of every employee he or she manages. If he or she cannot, that manager has no right to conduct performance reviews of the employees.
  • Perception 2
    Managing employees is just using common sense. There is no great skill involved in management. It is ridiculous that courts pay exorbitant salaries to managers for just using their common sense.
  • Perception 3
    The employee’s manager is not the employee’s friend. If an employee gets into trouble at work and they need an advocate, the manager will not save them.


Peter KieferHost of the Court Leader’s Advantage Podcast Series


Samantha WallisDeputy Trial Court Administrator, Supreme Court, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Creadell Webb: Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, First Judicial District, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Stacy Worby: State Jury Coordinator, Alaska Court System, Anchorage
Rick Pierce: Judicial Programs Administrator, Administrative Office of the Courts, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Watch or listen to the Question of Ethics Conversation.

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Join the Question of Ethics Conversation held after the Ethics Subcommittee meetings every fourth Thursday of the month at 2:00 ET.

Email us at ethics@nacmnet.org.