Volume 5, Issue 6 May 2014
area areaareaareaarea

Free online course addresses dynamics of elder abuse
Justice Responses to Elder Abuse shares tools, resources to improve access to justice for victims of elder abuse

The National Center for State Courts, in partnership with the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine’s Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect, have collaborated to create Justice Responses to Elder Abuse, a self-paced course for court professionals and the general public, offering a wide array of information and resources to address and reduce elder abuse. With incidents of elder abuse reportedly on the rise, this course offers courts and medical professionals the tools they need to identify abuse and to develop effective responses. The comprehensive and complimentary course provides the latest research on aging issues, including physical, cognitive, and emotional changes that increase an older person’s vulnerability to abuse. Medical, prosecution, and judicial experts explore the dynamics of elder abuse and highlight individual and systemic barriers to effective remedies for victims. To learn more, NCSC invites you to watch the Justice Responses to Elder Courts introductory video. Prosecutors, judges or members of the public may register for the course online.

Civil justice initiative under way
Examining procedure/litigation and docket/case management

In its first plenary meeting, the new Conference of Chief Justices' (CCJ) Civil Justice Improvements Committee last week identified two areas of the civil justice system as starting points to examine current court processes and to discover the most effective methods to improve access and reduce delay. The Committee split into two subcommittees that separately addressed (1) litigation procedures and (2) case and docket management. The 24-member committee is headed by Oregon Chief Justice Thomas Balmer and consists of state court chief justices, general counsel, law professors, attorneys, state court administrators, and judges. One of the next steps is to survey court leaders on methods of civil justice reforms that are taking place to learn what is working. The Committee’s ultimate mission is to develop guidelines, best practices, and recommendations for state policymakers that will make the civil justice system affordable and available to middle and lower income people.  The Committee plans to submit its final products to CCJ at its annual meeting in the summer of 2015.

NCSC report suggests numerous staffing needs for Colorado Dept. of Corrections
Workload study tracked time officers spent on specific duties

NCSC consultants recommend in a recently released report that Colorado needs to hire more than 50 parole officers to ensure public safety. NCSC was hired by the Corrections Department to determine staffing needs within the parole system after the former Corrections Chief Tom Clements was killed allegedly by a parolee. The 75-page report was a workload study that had parole officers track how much time they spent on specific duties to determine staffing needs. The last workload assessment was conducted more than 20 years ago. As part of the project, NCSC conducted focus groups with parole officers who reported that they do not have enough time to adequately perform their duties. They said much of their time is consumed by paperwork, data entry, drafting supervision plans, and assessing the risk of offenders. The report is now in the Colorado Governor’s Office and the Department of Corrections, who are studying the report’s findings.

New Harvard Executive Session paper ponders practice of judicial leadership
The Politics of Restraint insinuates that leaders' unique attributes lead to stronger courts

In the latest paper from the Harvard Executive Session, The Politics of Restraint, former Vermont Chief Justice Jeff Amestoy raises novel but fundamental questions about the meaning and practice of judicial leadership today. He argues that judicial leadership includes a nonpartisan but still ultimately political component in which the goal is "to strengthen the democratic polity by capitalizing on the unique attributes of state judicial leaders in the American democratic experience."  Such judicial leaders understand their role as extending beyond protecting and enhancing the budgetary and other needs of the state courts.

e-Courts taps award-winning speaker for keynote
Michael Wesch, dubbed “The Explainer” by Wired magazine, to open December technology conference

e-Courts 2014 kicks-off in energetic fashion with an opening keynote from Professor Michael Wesch.  Dubbed “The Explainer” by Wired magazine, Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture. He has won several major awards including a Wired Rave Award and the John Culkin Award for Outstanding Praxis in Media Ecology.  He was recently named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic. Other education program highlights include sessions on the building blocks of e-Courts, court technology recruiting and retention, and the always popular “30 Tech Tips in 30 Minutes.”  Register today for e-Courts 2014—December 8-10 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.

NCSC Reading Room
Pocket guide helps judges address challenges created by multijurisdiction litigation

New to NCSC Library’s collection is Coordinating Multijurisdiction Litigation: A Pocket Guide for Judges published in 2013. The Pocket Guide is available on the Multijurisdiction Litigation website, which is a joint project by the National Center for State Courts, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and the Federal Judicial Center.  This website serves as a guide to help judges address the many challenges created by multijurisdiction litigation.  As noted in the Advantages of Coordination section,  “Multijurisdiction litigation is a relatively common occurrence in the modern legal world. The phrase evokes images of mass tort litigation—thousands of cases against a limited number of defendants, most perhaps consolidated in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceeding but with many other cases in numerous state courts. However, multijurisdiction litigation is a much broader phenomenon. There are multijurisdiction disputes involving just one case in state court and a related case in federal court—commercial matters, insurance coverage disputes, even securities cases can span the jurisdictional divide.” Please contact Joan Cochet, NCSC Library Manager, at jcochet@ncsc.org  for a print copy of the Pocket Guide or for other resources on this topic.

In this month’s online Trends article, Janet G. Cornell discusses the importance of “Evidence-Based Management for Tomorrow’s Successful Court Leader.”