Ralph N. Kleps

Innovations in the California Courts - 20 of Years of Great Ideas

Ralph N. Kleps"The acceptance—indeed prominence — that the profession of court administration has achieved during the past 20 years is due in large measure to the work and the example of Ralph N. Kleps." —William E. Davis, Circuit Executive, United States Courts, Ninth Circuit, 1982

California’s Administrative Office of the Courts was created in 1961, and Ralph N. Kleps was appointed its first Administrative Director by California Chief Justice Phil S. Gibson.

A New York native, Mr. Kleps graduated from Deep Springs College in Bishop, California, and went on to receive his AB and LLB from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. After being admitted to the bar, Mr. Kleps went to work for a San Francisco law firm for several years before clerking for Chief Justice Gibson.

Mr. Kleps’s affiliation with the Judicial Council began in 1943, when he served as research director and oversaw the council’s survey of California’s administrative procedures. He was then appointed as the first director for the California Office of Administrative Procedure and served in that capacity from 1945 to 1950. From 1950 to 1961, Mr. Kleps served as Legislative Counsel to both houses of the state Legislature.

Upon his appointment as Administrative Director of the Courts, Mr. Kleps summed up the charge of the Administrative Office of the Courts as “. . . an administrative arm for the Council, through which continuous and effective action can be taken to carry out the policies adopted by the Council.”

Under Mr. Kleps’s 11-year tenure as Administrative Director of the Courts, he set in motion major initiatives that paved the way for court administration, using methods, analysis, and techniques that are still in use today.

Mr. Kleps was directly responsible for the establishment of a statistical reporting system in California and for developing state judicial information systems programs throughout the country.

His influence extended to court administration nationwide. He helped to make federal funding available for state courts to improve their management information. He contributed to the establishment of both the National Center for State Courts and the Institute for Court Management.

Within California, he was instrumental in the establishment of the California Center for Judicial Education and the development of the Standards of Judicial Administration.

Mr. Kleps passed away in San Francisco on August 15, 1982.

The following publications are good sources of further information on Ralph N. Kleps and the history of judicial administration in California.

W. Davis, “Ralph N. Kleps: A Tribute,” The Justice System Journal 7:2 (1982).

J. Galbrath, “Ralph N. Kleps, Longtime California Legal Figure,” Los Angeles Times (Aug. 18, 1982), p. OC-A18.

R. N. Kleps, “The Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the California Courts,” Journal of the State Bar of California 37 (1962).

L. Sipes, Committed to Justice: The Rise of Judicial Administration in California (San Francisco: Administrative Office of the Courts, 2002).


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