Meet CCPIO President Nancy Volmer
In early August, the Conference of Court Public Information Officers (CCPIO) held its annual conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was the 11th conference I have attended since joining the Utah State Courts in 2003 and the 24th conference for the association.
Early on in my career with the courts, I found the conference and members to be an incredible source of information as I acclimated to my new position. Today, more often than not, I find that the roles are reversed as I help guide new court PIOs who are adjusting to and learning their new roles.
The one thing that has always impressed me with CCPIO is the dedication and professionalism members demonstrate. Even under pressure, court PIOs seem to remain calm and collegial. So rather than share with you who I am, I’d like to introduce you to CCPIO and to the work of a court PIO.
CCPIO is a professional organization for those working to develop and improve public education and information programs in local, state, and federal court systems. CCPIO was incorporated in 1991 and has more than 120 members from across the country and abroad. The organization is guided by a seven-member board that oversees everything from finances to membership to the group’s website.
Court PIOs serve as liaisons between the judiciary and the public and can be found at all levels of the justice system, including the trial courts, appellate courts and administrative offices of the courts. Although duties can vary considerably among states and court jurisdictions, a court PIO is generally responsible for media and public information, community outreach, education, and publications. A court PIO may also be involved in legislative and governmental affairs, internal communications, law-related education, and supervisory management roles, such as overseeing a public information office.
A court PIO is expected to possess exceptional communications skills—both oral and written—as well as analytic abilities, diplomacy skills, flexibility, creativity, and quick thinking. In addition, a court PIO must have the ability to translate legal jargon into layperson’s language, the ability to juggle many duties at once, and the ability to remain calm under pressure.
In January 2016, I will be turning the gavel over to Beth Riggert, communications counsel for the Supreme Court of Missouri, who will ably lead the organization through the next two years.
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In the News
South Dakota Chief Justice David Gilbertson has been elected president of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and chair of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). The one-year positions became effective in July during CCJ’s annual conference and NCSC’s Board of Directors meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Chief Justice Gilbertson is the first chief justice from South Dakota to be selected for this position.
Chief Justice Gilbertson was first elected as chief justice in 2001 and is currently serving his fourth term, becoming the longest-serving chief justice in South Dakota’s history. Prior to joining the South Dakota Supreme Court, Chief Justice Gilbertson served on the circuit court bench, worked in private practice, and served as a deputy state’s attorney.
Chief Justice Gilbertson gained national attention in 2006 when he successfully led the fight against JAIL for Judges in his state. If this initiative had passed it would have broken down South Dakota’s judicial system and posed a potential threat to judicial systems in other states.
In 2013, Chief Justice Gilbertson was recognized with the Grass Roots Award by the American Bar Association for creating a program in South Dakota that encourages attorneys to establish a law practice in a rural area by refunding the cost of their legal education to them over a five-year period.
Chief Justice Gilbertson is past president of the South Dakota Judges Association. As a member of CCJ, he has served on the Tribal Relations Committee and the Task Force on Politics and Judicial Selection/Compensation.
Newly elected members to the 2015-2016 CCJ Board of Directors
President-elect: John D. Minton, Jr., Kentucky
First Vice President: Maureen O'Connor, Ohio
Second Vice President: James W. Hardesty, Nevada
Four members of the board of directors (two-year terms to expire at the 2017 annual meeting in Philadelphia): Scott Bales, Arizona; Nathan L. Hecht, Texas; Mark D. Martin, North Carolina; and Hugh P. Thompson, Georgia
The Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeals (CCJSCA) is finishing up work on an online education program “Governance and Leadership for Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal,” which consists of five modules. The first module identifies leadership challenges for chief judges, specifically, how the job responsibilities of a chief judge are usually not clearly defined and the authority of a chief judge is dependent on the willingness of associate judges to support the chief.
The remaining modules use examples of common challenges from experienced chief judges and ideas from “loosely coupled organization theory” to offer guidance to chief judges in how to be effective in their role as chief. For example, Module 2, "Leadership: The Importance of Legitimacy,” contains examples of how chief judges can establish their legitimacy with the other judges on their court so that when disagreements arise the chief will have earned the trust and confidence of his or her colleagues, and they will support the chief despite their disagreement.
Stephanie Hess received the gavel from outgoing president Michele Oken at the National Association for Court Management’s (NACM) 2015 Annual Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, this summer, becoming the association’s thirty-first president. Stephanie is the director of court services for the Supreme Court of Ohio. The board’s leadership includes Scott Griffith – president elect, Vicky Carlson – vice president, Yolanda Lewis – secretary/treasurer, and Michele Oken – immediate past president. Education sessions and keynotes from the conference are available for viewing on the NACM website.
The National Association for Court Management’s board recently began work on a new strategic plan. Based on feedback during brainstorming sessions at their fall board meeting, board members decided to revise the plan to make it more streamlined and agile. The new strategic plan should be ready to roll out at the 2016 Annual Conference in Pittsburgh. The association recently completed a major overhaul of its operations manual and national agenda, and its Governance Committee will be reviewing the operations manual this fall.
The Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) elected new leadership during their recent annual meeting. Patricia W. Griffin, state court administrator for Delaware, is COSCA’s new president. Gerald A. Marroney, Colorado’s state court administrator will serve as president-elect, and Arthur W. Pepin, director of the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts, will serve as vice president.
During the meeting, COSCA continued to refine its 2015 policy paper on problem-solving courts and selected debtor’s prisons and incarceration for non-payment of fines and fees as the topic for its 2016 paper.
The National College of Probate Judges is planning its 2015 fall conference in Alexandria, Virginia, that will feature education sessions on a variety of topics to those involved with probate, guardianship, and estate issues.
Registration for the National Association of State Judicial Educators (NASJE) annual conference is still open. NASJE will be meeting jointly with the American Judges Association and Washington State judges October 4-7 in Seattle, Washington.
The new National Conference of Metropolitan Courts (NCMC) president is the Hon. John J. Russo, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. NCMC is embarking on a new purpose and will be renamed the National Association for Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers that will focus on the art, science and improvement of leadership in the courts. With this new direction the association is working on developing a First Annual Trial Court Leadership Conference to be held Sep 25-28, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio.
The new National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks (NCACC) president is Blake Hawthorne, clerk of the court, Supreme Court of Texas.
Have questions? Need additional information? Have something you want to share? Contact Jennifer Haire, Director of Association and Conference Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757.259.1806.