Volume 5, Issue 10 October 2014
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NCSC acquires Center for Judicial Ethics
Center will continue to offer education on judicial conduct

The National Center for State Courts recently announced the acquisition of the Center for Judicial Ethics (the Center), a national clearinghouse on judicial ethics and discipline.  The Center had previously been housed at the American Judicature Society.  The acquisition ensures that the Center will continue to offer its full array of services and programs, including extensive online resources, databases of advisory opinions, and the expertise of its staff.  The Center will offer continuing education for judicial conduct commission members and staff, judges, judicial ethics advisory committees, and others to discuss professional standards for judges and current issues in judicial discipline.

NCSC and nation’s court community experience loss
NCSC Library resource manager touched many lives

NCSC and the nation’s court community lost a friend and colleague October 9 with the unexpected death of Joan Cochet, NCSC Library resource manager. Joan worked at NCSC for 10 years, during which time she touched the lives of court professionals around the country. In addition to her NCSC colleagues, Joan worked closely with court leaders, members of the nation’s court associations, and Fellows of the Institute for Court Management. Joan was the court community’s go-to person, no detail or resource too obscure for her to locate. “Joan possessed the unique combination of being extremely knowledgeable and professional and equally genuine and personable. She made an impact on everyone she met,” said NCSC President Mary McQueen. Joan’s reach is evident through the outpouring of condolences NCSC has received upon word of her death. “Joan’s passion for NCSC's library was evident and she was truly dedicated to helping all of us be successful,” said ICM Fellow Faye Guertin, deputy court administrator, Chandler Municipal Court, in Arizona. Joan is survived by her husband, Anthony Andrew Cochet, Sr.; son Anthony Andrew Cochet, Jr.; daughter, Cheryl Cathleen Cochet; grandchildren, Camile Joan, Noah, and Drew; twin sister Jean Ann Gentry; and father, David Galliart.

Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court receives 2014 Munsterman Award
Jon A. Gegenheimer recognized for modernizing court system

The National Center for State Courts has selected Jon A. Gegenheimer, Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court in Gretna, Louisiana, as the recipient of the 2014 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation. Gegenheimer assisted Jefferson Parish to successfully achieve numerous improvements in jury operations, including online jury service rescheduling, mobile application, and online exemption. "The National Center for State Courts was impressed by Jon Gegenheimer’s accomplishments," remarked Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the NCSC Center for Jury Studies. "Gegenheimer instituted several initiatives over a short period of time. He was able to reduce jury administration costs while at the same time provide exceptional customer service to jurors." The Munsterman Award recognizes states, local courts, organizations, or individuals that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations, and practices.

Gavel to Gavel hosting election night coverage
Results to be revealed online

In the upcoming November elections, ballots in nine states will have ten court-related items, ranging from mandatory retirement ages to selection methods for appellate judges to the creation of an intermediate appellate court. To help learn the potential impact each issue carries, NCSC’s Gavel to Gavel has been conducting a weekly countdown, featuring one ballot item per week through election day, November 4. In addition, Gavel to Gavel editor Bill Raftery will be hosting live coverage of the election night results for the ballot items, as well as the state supreme court races being held that evening.

NCSC Reading Room
Legal self-help, judicial salaries

In August 2014, the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services published “The Self-Help Center Census: A National Survey.” This report “provides a window into the structure and operation of self-help centers around the United States, with details on staffing, funding, types of services that are provided and the nature of the centers’ customers.” Another related title is a white paper from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), Special Committee on Access to Justice: “Law Libraries and Access to Justice” (2014). In his introduction, AALL Past President Steven Anderson stated that as the primary providers of legal information, “law libraries are an indispensable part of the services that can be provided to those with legal needs. Law libraries make ‘The Law’ available, and law librarians serve as guides to finding the most relevant legal information.” This white paper illustrates how many different types of law libraries offer legal assistance and resources while promoting access to justice for all citizens.

Salary is often cited as an important factor in attracting and keeping well-qualified judges. This month’s Trends in State Courts article examines the challenges over how to determine judicial compensation in the face of budget cuts and constitutional questions.