Volume 5, Issue 11 November 2014
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Kansas appellate judge receives 2014 Rehnquist award
Honored for work in procedural fairness

Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. presented the William Rehnquist Award to Kansas Judge Steve Leben at a dinner Thursday night in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court. Judge Leben was recognized for his work in procedural fairness, which “creates an atmosphere of neutrality and trust . . .  and strengthens public trust and confidence in the courts,” Chief Justice Roberts said. The dinner was part of NCSC’s series of Fall Events that also includes the Annual Recognition Luncheon. During the luncheon, NCSC presented Jon A. Gegenheimer, Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court in Gretna, Louisiana, with the 2014 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation for improvements in jury operations that include online jury service rescheduling, a mobile application, and online exemption.

CCJ forms pandemic emergencies task force
Task force to produce guidebook, assist with development of products

State court judges are facing new and complex legal questions as a result of the Ebola virus. In response, but also in preparation for any future pandemic emergencies, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) is creating a CCJ Task Force, in which NCSC will provide assistance. The NCSC has submitted a grant application to the State Justice Institute (SJI) to support the project. SJI’s Board of Directors will review the application during its meeting on December 8, 2014. The pandemic task force will examine legal questions that may come before courts during pandemic emergencies and produce a guidebook that each state can use to develop its own bench book. The task force also will develop a summary of resources available to courts and assist with implementing task-force products as needed, such as participation in a national webinar and a presentation at the 2015 CCJ/COSCA annual meeting. Members of the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association will serve on the task force. South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Toal will serve as chair.

Implicit Bias Training offered for members of court community
Training includes problem-solving exercises, interactive learning

The National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness, in cooperation with NCSC, is sponsoring Implicit Bias Training December 15 at 1 p.m. EST. Kim Papillon, a national neuroscience practitioner, will lead the session, which will be live streaming. The webinar is free and open to the court community. The training addresses what implicit bias is and how and why it is relevant to courts and the daily administration of justice. The curriculum includes interactive learning and specific problem-solving exercises that can be used to assess current practices in the courts. They can also help participants develop and improve court processes and implement emergent best practices that will aid systems in reducing subjective decision making. For further information, please contact NCSC’s Mickey Collins at mcollins@ncsc.org.

NCSC revitalizes Workload Assessment web page
Map shows workload assessment projects completed in 30 states

 NCSC recently updated its Workload Assessment web page to feature a map highlighting the workload assessment projects completed by NCSC in 30 states. NCSC staff also recently released "Workload Assessment: A Data-Driven Management Tool for the Judicial Branch," an article from the 2013 edition of The Book of the States, which explains the weighted caseload method of workload assessment and provides practical examples of how states have used weighted caseload models. Workload assessments assist states in providing empirical support for budget requests to the legislature, assessing resource equity among courts or offices across the state, and managing the distribution of resources across various case types and functions within individual offices.

NCSC reading room
Language access, traffic resources

The New Mexico Center for Language Access is offering a resource to improve language access in the courts: the Language Access Basic Training Suite. This purpose of this interactive training, which can be downloaded, is to help court employees gain a “basic understanding of their ethical and legal obligations, as well as current best practices in serving limited English proficient and non-English speaking individuals.” Modules are available for both monolingual and bilingual users, and there are Spanish and language-neutral versions. The LABT is a collaborative project funded by a grant from the State Justice Institute and supported by the National Center for State Courts and the Language Access Advisory Committee of the Conference of State Court Administrators.

The “Issue Briefs” of NCSC’s Traffic Resource Center are the subject of the November Trends in State Courts online article. These briefs focus on “vulnerable user” statutes, electronic citations, child endangerment statutes, and other important issue related to traffic cases.