Volume 5, Issue 8 August 2014
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Kansas judge to receive Rehnquist Award
Judge Steve Leben recognized for work in procedural fairness

Judge Steve Leben of the Kansas Court of Appeals has been named recipient of NCSC’s 2014 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. One of the nation’s highest judicial honors, the Rehnquist Award is presented annually to a state court judge who exemplifies judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. will present the award to Judge Leben during a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court on November 20. “Judge Leben has dedicated his career to improving and broadening legal education, most recently in the area of procedural fairness,” said NCSC President Mary C. McQueen. “As a result of his groundbreaking work, the public’s trust and confidence in our country’s court system is improving.” Judge Leben said he’s honored to receive the award and grateful for the recognition it will bring to the issue of procedural fairness. “People need to feel like they are listened to by a neutral judge who explains his or her decision. The public’s view of the justice system is driven more by how they are treated by the courts than whether they win or lose their case.”


e-Courts 2014 education program announced
Conference will focus on changes in public expectations, mobile devices, and e-everything

The e-Courts 2014 education program is here!  A vibrant keynote, nearly a dozen plenary education sessions, and carefully selected “e-gnite” talks from exhibitors make this year’s program the strongest ever.  Education will focus on some classic themes, such as implementation of successful e-filing programs, along with newer ones, such as how mobile devices are presenting both opportunities and challenges to the courts.  How can courts keep up with rapidly and radically changing public expectations?  Can court data safely and securely be moved from paper to the cloud? Come to e-Courts 2014 to hear from those on the cutting edge of court technology and effective administration about how to address these problems—and many others.  e-Courts’ speakers include state and trial court administrators, chief information officers, and experts from the National Center for State Courts.   A complete list of session titles is now available on the e-Courts website.  Review the program, and register today for discounted rates.


CCJ and COSCA announce new presidents
Arkansas and Iowa courts take leadership roles

New leadership was named recently for the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators. During the CCJ/COSCA annual conference in West Virginia Arkansas Chief Justice Jim Hannah (pictured at right) was named CCJ president and chair of NCSC’s Board of Directors. Iowa State Court Administrator David K. Boyd was named president of COSCA and vice-chair of NCSC’s Board of Directors.  All positions are one-year terms. The conference’s theme was “The Silver Tsunami: The Effects of an Aging Population on State Courts.”

2014 CCPIO New Media Survey results released
Fewer court officials object to media sending out messages from court proceedings

The 2014 Conference of Court Public Information Officers (CCPIO) New Media Survey reveals a changing attitude by judges and court officials about the use of devices and new media during court proceedings. A year ago, nearly 66% of court officials would object to the media sending out messages from the courtroom during a proceeding. In 2014 the gap has narrowed, with only 46% percent saying it’s inappropriate. The courts increasingly recognize the expectation of the general public to bring a cell phone or mobile device into the courtroom, but generally prefer they don’t use the devices during court proceedings. The survey also reveals that while more courts are embracing the potential new media brings, the majority have not and are still grappling with the risks involved. Overall, Facebook use by courts is up by more than 5%; Twitter use increased by 3.5%; and YouTube use by 3%. Complete survey results are available on CCPIO’s website.

Unaccompanied minor crisis impacting courts across country
Listen to webinar to learn how your court could be affected

NCSC, in partnership with Casey Family Programs, recently hosted a webinar, “Crossing the Border: How the Unaccompanied Minor Crisis Will Impact Your Court,” to help state courts across the country learn how this issue could impact them. Panelists presented statistics on this recent trend, explained the state courts' role, shared effective court practices, and provided recommendations for state courts to prepare for this influx of unaccompanied children. The webinar drew close to 200 participants and brought a range of questions about language access, jurisdiction, and available resources. Panelists included Judge Patricia A. Macias (ret.), Casey Family Programs; John Martin, Ph.D., Center for Public Policy Studies; and David Slayton, Administrative Director of Office of Court Administration, Texas. View the webinar here.

Nominations open for Munsterman Award
Award honors innovations or improvements in jury procedures

The Center for Jury Studies is accepting nominations for the G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation. The award is named for G. Thomas Munsterman, founder and former director of the Center for Jury Studies and an internationally renowned innovator in jury systems and research. The award recognizes states, local courts, individuals, or other organizations that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations, or practices in one of the following categories: state or local statutes, rules, or other formal changes; jury management or technology; in-court improvements; or other improvements or innovations. Nominations are due August 31 and can be sent to Greg Hurley at ghurley@ncsc.org.

NCSC reading room
Improving operations via E-courtrooms, remote video

Last fall, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), with funding support from the State Justice Institute (SJI), provided the Circuit Court in Volusia County, Florida consulting assistance “to assess the space arrangement of existing courtrooms in Volusia County, and develop a set of guiding planning concepts and new standardized courtroom layout plans for future Volusia County court facility implementation.  The goals of this project were to intelligently determine how Volusia County may develop new courtrooms in the future to support the evolving e-courtroom environment and present day workflow processes.” The final report, Volusia County, Florida E-Courtroom Requirements and Design Concepts, offers diagrams, floor plans, photographs, and models to help illustrate functional design concepts for courtrooms today and in the future.  This title and others covering court design and e-courtroom requirements are available through the NCSC Library’s online catalog.  Contact Joan Cochet, Library Resource Manager for assistance. 

Courts are turning to technology to streamline operations in the wake of the economic downturn.  This month’s Trends in State Courts article examines how remote video is not only saving courts money, but also improving safety for law-enforcement officers in North Carolina.