Each year, the Board of Directors of the Justice Management Institute awards the Ernest E. Friesen Award in recognition of an individual who has demonstrated vision, leadership, and sustained commitment to the achievement of excellence in the administration of justice. The award is named for Ernie Friesen because he has epitomized a passion for justice combined with keen observation and analytic ability, extraordinary skills as a teacher, and a sustained commitment to improving the leadership and management of courts.
This year’s recipient, Gordon “Gordy” Griller, in keeping with the spirit of the Friesen award, has demonstrated vision and leadership in his service to state trial courts. Mr. Griller began his career as the court administrator for the Municipal Court of Hennepin County, and soon thereafter became the district administrator for the Second Judicial District of Minnesota, Ramsey County, serving in that position until 1987 when he moved to Arizona to become the court administrator for the Superior Court in Maricopa County. He currently serves as a principal court management consultant and the Director of Trial Court Leadership Programs at the National Center for State Courts.
For more than 4 decades, Gordy has made lasting contributions to court improvement including
- The creation of the nationally recognized Self Service Center for providing court access to unrepresented litigants;
- The development and implementation of new technologies, including the Automated Court System, digital recording and electronic courtroom litigation support systems; and
- Broad reforms and caseflow management initiatives in the criminal, family, civil, and juvenile courts
His leadership has also been evident as President of the National Association of Trial Court Administrators from 1983-1984 and serving as the co-chair of the special commission that created the National Association for Court Management. Gordy was one of the founding member of JMI’s Urban Court Manager’s Network, and he has served on the governing boards of the National Center for State Courts, the American Judicature Society, and the National Conference of Metropolitan Courts.
The Friesen Award was presented to Mr. Griller at the National Association of Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers Conference on September 27th, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. JMI’s President, Elaine Borakove, along with JMI Board members Ray Billotte, Judicial Branch Administrator at Superior Court of Maricopa County, and Robert Wessels, former Court Manager of Harris County Criminal Courts, presented the award. Mr. Griller is the fifteenth recipient of the Ernest E. Friesen Award.