NCSC in the news

 
Judge's order says Alabama court 'literally had to beg for money' to pay staff

A study by the National Center for State Courts found the 13th Judicial Circuit’s clerk needs eight or nine more law clerks than she has, he notes. Richter says the state has acknowledged that the circuit also needs more judges, but it may only reallocate judgeships when an existing judge leaves office. Read the full story from the ABA Journal.

 
There's less precedent for regional judicial elections than lawmakers suggest

According to National Center for State Courts analyst William Raftery, there are actually 10 states in which appellate judges are tied to a district in some way, and they're not the same ones Aument named. Read the full story from WITF.

 
Georgia juries are left in the dark when it comes to punishment

Jurors still impose the sentence in six states — Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia — according to the National Center for State Courts. Read the full article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

 
Persky Recall Was a 'Perfect Storm.' But Did It Give Future Recall Advocates a Road Map?

A minority of states in the U.S. allow judicial recalls. Only nine have such a mechanism on the books, and four of them require certain facts be alleged or proven in order for the process to be triggered, according to William Raftery, a senior analyst at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia. Read the full article from Law.com.

 
Opioid crisis impacting all courts

Setting up national judicial guidelines that can be adapted by states should be a priority in handling the opioid epidemic as it impacts nearly all courts, Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush said Tuesday. The National Judicial Opioid Task Force, which is an arm of the National Center for State Courts, has launched an “Opioids and the Courts” web page at www.ncsc.org/opioidsandcourts. Read the full story from the Greensburg Daily News.

 
Remembering ‘Bo’ Torbert

Opelika lost one of its hometown stars with the passing of Clement Clay “Bo” Torbert Jr. June 2. Torbert was active in national affairs with respect to state court systems. He was appointed by President Reagan to serve as chairman of the first Board of Directors of the State Justice Institute and elected chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Center for State Courts. Read the full story from the Opelika Observer.

 
Senate Budget Vote Could Fund Medicaid Expansion, Vacant Loudoun Judgeship

Last year, a report by the National Center for State Courts concluded that Virginia needed 28 more judges in its Circuit, District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations courts—including one in the 20th Circuit that serves Loudoun. Read the full story from LoudounNow. 

 
Henrico drug court reaches milestone at graduation

Those who have completed a drug court program are less likely to re-offend than someone who went through the regular criminal justice program, according to a 2012 report by the National Center for State Courts. Read the full story from nbc12.com.

 
People and Places

Gwyneth Collins of Bentonville was honored for her entry to the National Center for State Courts essay contest. She was presented a certificate in a ceremony in the Supreme Court Courtroom of the Arkansas State Capital. The award ceremony was a part of Law Day 2018. Read the full story from Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

 
Armstrong likely to secure fifth term on Oregon Court of Appeals

Armstrong cited a study from the National Center for State Courts, which concluded that the Oregon Court of Appeals lacks the capacity to issue opinions on every decision, and issues public decisions at a higher rate than comparable courts. Read the full story from The Bulletin.

 
Texas judges are leading a cultural shift on how we handle defendants with mental health problems

When it comes to mental health, the National Center for State Courts has cited a need for a cultural shift in our courts, and accordingly, Texas judges have made the decision to step up and lead the way with reforms that will benefit the lives of all Texans. Read the full article from the Dallas Morning News.

 
Because of threats, one in four judges say they pack heat

In a publication from the National Center For State Courts, judges are advised to not “let their guard down,” even at home. Something as simple as answering a knock on the door could be a security threat, so the advisory urges judges not to open any door without knowing who is on the other side. Read the full story from the Daytona Daily News.

 
Four Questions Public Sector Should be Asking About Blockchain

In a January “Trends Statement” paper, Paul Embley, chief information officer for the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), and Diana Graski, consultant with NCSC, note that blockchain technology “could soon be used in a variety of innovative ways to resolve court record-keeping challenges.” In particular, they call out court judgments, warrants and criminal histories—high-stakes records management involving multiple participants and hand-offs including law enforcement, probation and parole, courts and third-party information providers. Read the full story from Talk IoT.

 
Salem High School students receive recognition for Law Day 2018 essays

Two Salem High School students participated in the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Civics Education Essay Contest for Law Day 2018. Read the full story from Areawide Media.

 
Expect to hear from the courts if you ignore jury duty in Louisville

Follow up efforts to non-responsive citizens do help to increase overall response rates and make jury pools look more like the communities they serve, according to best practices from the National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit focused on judicial administration. Read the full story from the Courier Journal.

 
Study finds 'stunning' justice gap in Virginia civil cases

The 5-year-long study was conducted by the National Center for State Courts and funded by a grant to Blue Ridge Legal Services with the support of the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Virginia Access to Justice Commission. Read the full story from Richmond.com.

 
Gary, Indiana student wins essay contest

Raquel Atkins, a fifth-grader at Glen Park Academy in Gary, won first place in the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) 2018 Civics Education Essay Contest, which is divided into three categories: elementary, middle and high school. The contest, which focused on the separation of powers, asked students to answer this question: “Why did the Founding Fathers create the three branches of government?” Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

 
Sugar Creek's Morris earns third place

Seth Morris, a student at Sugar Creek Consolidated Elementary in West Terre Haute, received a third place in the National Center for State Courts’ 2018 Civics Education Essay Contest on April 23 at Williamsburg, Virginia. Read the full story from the Tribune Star.

 
AP FACT CHECK: Ad attacking Supreme Court justice misleading

The panel rejected the request, settling on a 2 percent raise. The pay for Goodson and the other associate justices increased by $3,330. Goodson said this week she was grateful to get that. Salaries for Arkansas' Supreme Court associate justices rank 27th among high courts nationally, according to a survey from the National Center for State Courts. Read the full article from the New Haven Register.

 
Letter: Probate court

Judge Condon is working with the National Center for State Courts to develop the Rapid Response Conservator Program to monitor transactions by conservators. Read the full story in the Post and Courier.

 
Health law conference at SIU to address nation’s opioid epidemic

Michelle White, principal court management consultant, National Center for State Courts, is making a presentation at 19th annual SIH/SIU Health Policy Institute program, “Opening Pandora’s Bottle: Law, Policy, and America’s Opioid Epidemic” on May 18 at SIU Carbondale’s Hiram H. Lesar Law Building Auditorium. Read the full story from the Southern Illinoisan.

 
Appeals court: Armstrong

Armstrong, 68, a veteran of four six-year terms on the court, says that the court’s caseload has declined in number, but not in complexity. He says that even after the court’s expansion in 2012, a workload study by the National Center for State Courts concluded that the Oregon Court of Appeals should have double the number of judges it now has. Read the full story from the Register-Guard.

 
GOP plan to impeach 4 Pa. justices remains in limbo

Efforts to impeach or otherwise remove judges because of controversial rulings have been undertaken in at least a half-dozen states in recent years, according to the National Center for State Courts, but none has been successful. Read the full story from the Sentinel. 

 
'I had nightmares': Nanny slay trial took toll on jurors

About 70 percent of jurors report some level of stress, but less than 10 percent report extreme stress, according to a study done by the National Center for State Courts. Some judges will request a crisis-management session after a trial but that's unusual and was not ordered after the nanny verdict. Read the full story from the Longview-News Journal.

 
For prosecutors, Louisiana's split-verdict law produces results

In more than 1,800 trials with 12-member juries from The Advocate's database, 81 percent ended with the jury — or at least 10 jurors — voting to convict a defendant of at least one charge. That’s well above the 71 percent rate reported by the National Center for State Courts in a 2003 survey of 30 large counties across the country. Read the full story from the New Orleans Advocate.

 
Fees and fines threaten judicial independence

A study by NPR and the National Center for State Courts found that, between 2010 and 2014, 48 states criminal and civil fees, added new fees, or both. And when so many fees are dedicated to courtroom costs and salaries, the public’s confidence in judicial impartiality can be undermined. Read the full story from the ABA Journal.

 
Exploitation of Seniors Focus of Hearing in Washington, D.C.

According to the National Center for State Courts, there are about 1.3 million adult guardianship cases in the US today. Read the full story from Erie News Now.

 
Treatment court provides pathway to sobriety

According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, Minnesota’s treatment courts are funded by multiple sources. Sources include judicial branch appropriation, Minnesota Office for Traffic Safety, Minnesota Department of Human Services, Minnesota Office of Justice Programs, federal funding and local government sources. Read the full story from the Globe.

 
Impeachment a tale of eroding checks, balances

From 1974 until my retirement at the end of 2013, I worked as a lawyer for the National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit charged with improving judicial administration in the United States and around the world. Read the full story from the NH Business Review.

 
Whitfield: Poor and Locked Out of Our Civil Justice System

California Court of Appeals Justice Earl Johnson Jr. once wryly observed that “[p]oor people have access to the American courts in the same sense that the Christians had access to the lions when they were dragged into a Roman arena.” That dystopian vision of our system of civil justice just gained further credence in the findings of a recently released report from the National Center for State Courts, The Virginia Self-Represented Litigant Study. In this study, the center analyzed data from the Virginia courts’ databases, focusing on those who go to court without a lawyer. Read the full story on GoDanRiver.com.

 
Supporting independent courts—from the inside out

Since 2014, the National Center for State Courts has published an annual public opinion survey—The State of the State Courts—designed to track public attitudes toward our state courts. The numbers haven’t always been pretty. And the data suggests we must tidy up our own house while also trying to prevent these external forces from undermining the judiciary. Our 2017 survey revealed that only 58 percent of Americans believe that the term “fair and impartial” describes our courts well. Our 2015 poll found that only 32 percent of African-Americans believe that our courts provide equal justice to all. Read the full story from the ABA Journal.

 
How to win in court without overpaying

Justice can be expensive. How expensive? A 2013 study by the National Center for State Courts suggests it’s unaffordable for most of us. Even a simple automobile case can exceed $100,000 per side if the case goes to trial. Read the full story on elliot.org.

 
30th Judicial Circuit Court recognized for timely service to public

The Daniel J. O’Toole Award earned by the 30th Judicial Circuit is based on clearance rate criteria. The National Center for State Courts defines clearance rate as the number of outgoing cases as a percentage of the number of incoming cases. If 100 cases are filed and 95 are disposed in the given time period, the clearance rate is .95 or 95 percent. Read the full story from the Marshfield Mail.

 
The Ultimate Guide to Vetting a Business Partner

Your local courthouse can be a source of information about lawsuits or other public record information. However, keep in mind this information will be limited to actions taken in that jurisdiction. And it may even be inaccurate. It’s not unusual for people with similar names to be mistaken for one another for example. (Millions of court judgments have been removed from credit reports recently because they couldn’t be thoroughly matched to the right person.) “Courts do not conduct criminal background checks,” warns the National Center for State Courts on its website. Read the full story on nav.com.

 
You soon will earn more money for jury duty

The change does not apply to folks called for jury duty in state court systems — which tend to pay less, according to data compiled by the nonprofit National Center for State Courts. Read the full story on wfmz.com.

 
Proposal would expand public access to N.D. court records

A best practice issued last summer by the National Center for State Courts and State Justice Institute factored in, Crothers and Jensen said. Read the full story from the Bismark Tribune.

 
Tough odds for defendants in Virginia's lowest courts

Whitfield, working with the National Center for State Courts, analyzed records of civil cases in general district courts across Virginia. Read the full story from the Daily Press.

 
How Drug Courts Work

As opioids began to ravage the city, court officials found that drug court participants were overdosing and dying at an alarming rate. In 2017, with a grant of $300,000, Buffalo's Opioid Crisis Intervention Court opened with Hannah as its chief judge [source: Schanz]. Since its birth in May 2017, only one defendant out of 204 has since died of a drug overdose [source: National Center for State Courts]. Read the full story from howstuffworks.com.

 
Potential Cosby Jurors Are Asked About #MeToo Bias

The very fact that judge O'Neill is allowing five additional accusers to testify - not one, as in the first trial - is evidence of how the #MeToo moment has influenced the case, said Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts. The judge has not explained his reasoning for allowing more accusers to testify this time. "When I saw that, I said really, the ground has really shifted," Ms. Hannaford-Agor said. "The judge has had to pay attention." Read the full story in the New York Times.

 
Why it’s so hard for women to ‘just leave’ abusive relationships

Fortunately, professional training is available on how to respond to domestic abuse, from programs for clergy to judges to law enforcement. And to fight gender bias, the National Center for State Courts is applying new strategies, such as exercises that increase awareness of unintended bias. Read the full article from Infosurhoy.

 
GOP chief justice slams Republican judicial impeachment move

Lawmakers in at least a half-dozen states have sought in recent years to impeach or otherwise remove judges as a result of controversial decisions — including in some instances over same-sex marriage rulings — but without success, according to the National Center for State Courts. Read the article from the Washington Post.

 
Kentucky budget would make putting police in schools cheaper

Judges and circuit court clerks have not gotten raises in about a decade, according to Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. Kentucky's judicial salaries rank 48th out of 50 states, according to a 2017 survey by the National Center for State Courts. Read the full article from the Lexington Herald Leader.

 
Republicans are calling for the impeachment of Pennsylvania judges. It’s nothing new.

Using the Gavel to Gavel database maintained by the National Center for State Courts, I gathered data on all court-related bills introduced in the 50 U.S. states from 2008 through 2016. After reading each bill to determine whether it “curbed” the court in one way or another, I found more than 1,700 court-curbing bills in state legislatures in those nine years. Read the story from the Washington Post.

 
WV Intermediate Court of Appeals Waste of Taxpayer Money

Indeed, the National Center for State Courts says that West Virginia has long been in the bottom 25 percent of states when it comes to civil cases filed (based on population). Read the full story in The Legal Examiner.

 
You've never seen a court like this... but would it work on Staten Island?

According to a 2013 study by the National Center for State Courts, the Red Hook Community Justice Center reduced the number of defendants receiving jail sentences by 35 percent and lowered recidivism by 10 percent for adults and by 20 percent for juveniles. Read the full story on SILive.com.

 
The truth about the US jury system

Gregory Hurley (National Center for State Courts): "Jury consultants are really not there necessarily to create an impartial jury they're there to pick a jury that they feel is going to be most favorable for their client. But the other side is doing the same thing and the idea is through that battle an impartial jury will eventually be developed... It's not a system that is perfect but it is a very effective system that's been around a long time." Read the full story in the Business Examiner.

 
State judges have been impeached, but very rarely

2010 research report from the National Center for State Courts detailed some of these efforts, including moves to remove judges for their court decisions. Bills were filed in the state legislatures of Massachusetts, Iowa and New Jersey to remove state supreme court judges who approved same-sex marriages. Read the full story from the National Constitution Center.

 
County moves to clear land for new courthouse

A 1988 study done by the National Center for State Courts showed that the administration building was “functionally unsatisfactory in terms of circulation, structural, and environmental systems.” Read the full article from the Hudson Reporter.

 
Under Florida bill, 9th Circuit could expand, other circuits could lose judges

"Our methodology evolved to this weighted case management where we are able, with the assistance of the National Center for State Courts, to weight filings more appropriately when we make our requests for our expansion of the workforce," Lauten said. Read the full story from the Florida Record.

 
House Bill Strips Funding for Loudoun Judgeship

Despite a study by the National Center for State Courts that found Loudoun needs another judge—and despite having a person ready for the job—a key House of Delegates committee has decided not to restore funding for a Loudoun Circuit Court judge that the General Assembly took away in 2017. Read the full story from Loudoun Now.

 
County judge tables poll proposal

County Judge Barry Moehring and Chang-Ming Yeh of the National Center for State Courts walk Tuesday near the Benton County Circuit Court building in Bentonville. Moehring, along with other interested county personnel and consultants, took a tour of the chosen site for a new courts building in downtown Bentonville. Read the full story from the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

 
Judges say throw out the map. Lawmakers say through out the judges.

As far back as the 1800s, New Hampshire's legislature disbanded the state's Supreme Court five times, said Bill Raftery, a senior analyst at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va., who has tracked legislation affecting the judicial system for years. Read the full story in the New York Times.

 
Rulings make judges legislative targets; impeachment bid in Pennsylvania

Impeachment threats have become more common in the last 10 years, according to Bill Raftery, a senior analyst at the National Center for State Courts. He tells the Times that, during the 2011-12 legislative session, lawmakers in seven states sought to oust judges. Read the full article in the ABA Journal.

 
Bearing the brunt of jury duty

A 2007 study by the National Center for State Courts showed that of the 10.2 million summonses mailed to California residents, only 192,884 of those people were selected to serve on a jury. The costs add up. Read the full story in the Register Pajaronian.

 
Richard Spencer and 2 others claim they can't find lawyers for Charlottesville defense

Going without a lawyer isn’t entirely uncommon. The National Center for State Courts, in a 2006 report, found a rise in the number of pro se litigants, particularly in divorce and family cases. Read the full story at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

 
Legislators strike a middle path between Martinez and judiciary on crime

Judicial salaries would jump on average by about 4.5 percent. The judiciary would welcome that — for several years, New Mexico judges’ salaries ranked at or near the bottom nationally in nearly every category. That changed at the beginning of the year, when the state plummeted to the cellar in all categories, according to a new survey released Jan. 1 by the National Center for State Courts. Read the full article on NMpolitics.net.

 
Policy of Openness Has Been Key Philosophy for Retiring Chief Justice

Rogers was appointed to the State Justice Institute’s board of directors in 2010 by President  Barack Obama, and was elected chairwoman on June 13, 2016. She has served on an advisory committee for the National Center for State Courts Expanding Court Access to Justice Project and the Conference of Chief Justices Civil Justice Initiative Committee. Read the full story in the Connecticut Law Tribune.

 
Essay contest on branches of government open to students

The National Center for State Courts is sponsoring the competition, which asks entrants to answer the following question in 100 words or fewer: “Why did our Founding Fathers create three branches of government?” Read the full article on the IndianaLawyer.com.

 
Iowa court administrator David Boyd wins national award

David K. Boyd, the former state court administrator for the Iowa Judicial Branch, was named the recipient of the National Center for State Courts' Warren E. Burger Award, named for the former U.S. Supreme Court justice. Read the full story in the Des Moines Register.

 
Do orders of protection actually shield domestic violence victims?

Victims of domestic violence should at least consider getting a protective order, says Susan Keilitz, JD, Principal Court Research Consultant at the National Center for State Courts and an expert on civil protection orders. Read the full story on theCrimeReport.org.

 
Raises for SC employees unlikely, but judges want a 20% pay hike

“South Carolina’s judicial salaries remain low compared to other states, according to the National Center for State Courts. This request is a first step toward establishing comparable salaries to other justices and judges across the country,” said Tonnya Kennedy Kohn, interim director of S.C. Court Administration. Read the full story in the State.

 
Movement Against Juvenile Court Fees Runs Into Resistance

A 2017 report by the National Center for State Courts found that most states do not have systems in place for juvenile probation supervision or to waive those fees when appropriate to do so. Read the full article on the Luxora Leader.

 
NM’s skeletal criminal justice system needs a cash infusion

The state Administrative Office of the Courts has asked for a $14 million increase this year, in part to boost the pay of New Mexico’s judges, which are the lowest paid in the nation, according to a report from the National Center for State Courts. Read the full article on NMPolitics.net.

 
NC justice system overhaul injects politics into state’s court system, critics say

Nowhere in America are so many changes coming to courts in such a relatively short time, says Bill Raftery, an analyst with the National Center for State Courts. Read the full article in the Charlotte Observer.

 
D.A., BP have an idea to fight recidivist crime on Staten Island - but will agencies get on board?

According to a 2013 report by the National Center for State Courts, the Red Hook Community Justice Center reduced recidivism and the number of people receiving jail sentences and helped strengthen neighborhoods. Read the full article on silive.com.

 
From our archives: "I'm it" - The only African American judge in Oregon's state court system, Adrienne Nelson

One final issue limits the pool of judicial candidates: Oregon pays its judges less than at least 47 other states, according to the National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit advocacy organization. When good lawyers can earn more as newly minted associates than as senior judges, it's hard to lure them from the private sector onto the bench.

 
Did prosecutors go too far in clearing a cop in a 2014 killing?

“The prosecutor has an amazing amount of control over a grand jury,” says Greg Hurley, an analyst with the National Center for State Courts. “They can signal the grand jury in a lot of different ways in terms of the outcome they're looking for.” Read the full story in the Portland Mercury.