@TheCenter from NCSC


Poll shows uptick in view of state courts


Public trust in the state courts has ticked upward in the last two years, reports a recent public opinion survey conducted for NCSC by GBA Strategies. According to the November 2014 survey, courts remain the most trusted branch of government and have seen an increase across a number of broad measures of public confidence since the last survey in 2012. The survey finds that 71 percent of respondents agree with the statement that courts in their state “treat people with dignity and respect.” Respondents also indicate that they would also like to see more court services available online. The “State of the State Courts” survey is a new NCSC initiative that will annually track and report public feedback on core issues pertaining to the work of the state courts.  The survey was conducted November 12-16, 2014, and polled 1,000 registered voters.


State Court Org updated and more user-friendly


The 2014 online edition of State Court Organization (SCO) is now available and more user-friendly. SCO is a web-based, interactive application that allows users to sort and filter data to focus on specific issues of interest and characteristics of courts. SCO presents detailed, comparative data about how state trial and appellate courts are organized and administered in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With topics ranging from the types of courts established in each state to specific aspects of law or procedure, SCO is the source for authoritative answers to fundamental questions about the operations of each state’s court system.


New JTC paper makes case for judicial tools


The Joint Technology Committee (JTC) has released a new resource bulletin, “Making the Case for Judicial Tools,” which lists two goals to assist the court community. The first goal is to introduce the concept of judicial caseflow management to shape future technology discussions. The second goal is to identify considerations and recommendations in creating configurable judicial tools that meet judicial needs while improving the business capabilities and processes of judges on the bench and in chambers. In December 2013, the JTC appointed a Judicial Tools Working Group to research and document technology and judicial case management needs. In recent months, JTC has prepared five publications regarding e-filing, cloud computing, electronic records preservation, and paper on demand. JTC includes representatives from the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA), National Association for Court Management (NACM), and NCSC.


Survey seeks input on tracks for CTC 2015


Planning for this year’s Court Technology Conference (CTC) is well under way, and NCSC is working on building an outstanding education program. To this end, we need your input! A conference is great only if the content reflects the topics and concerns of the people most likely to attend. Take this one-question survey to tell us what you want to see at CTC 2015. Please act quickly, because this survey closes at 5:00 pm eastern time on February 24.


NCSC releases information card on unaccompanied immigrant children


Through funding from the State Justice Institute, NCSC has partnered with the Center for Public Policy Studies to release an information card that provides state courts with key information on unaccompanied immigrant (alien) children (UACs). This information card is designed to assist state courts to better understand and prepare for the impact that the immigration of UACs will continue to have on state courts. UACs are a growing immigrant population and are at serious risk for abuse and neglect and for becoming victims of crime and human trafficking. In light of this, state courts need to be aware of factors not normally within the regular scope of their caseload. Specifically, the card focuses on explaining federal Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, which provides UACs, a vulnerable population, with a temporary right to remain in the United States.


NCSC reading room


In Furman v. Georgia (1972), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in Georgia, which was believed to be the end of capital punishment nationwide. However, in Gregg v. Georgia (1976), the Court reversed course and reinstated the death penalty. How did this come about? In A Wild Justice: The Death and Resurrection of Capital Punishment in America, Evan J. Manderly, a professor at John Jay Law School in New York City, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Court and the political complexities of the death penalty in the United States.

What are the drawbacks of using grand juries? This month’s Trends in State Courts article is last of a two-part series on the use of grand juries in criminal prosecutions.

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