@TheCenter from NCSC


NCSC publishes graphic novel about cyberbullying—and Magna Carta

NCSC has released its fifth graphic novel in the Justice Case Files series, which teaches students and adults about how the justice system works and how it protects them. The latest book, The Case of the Cyberbully, tells the story of Amber, who is bullied at school and online by classmate Madison. The bullying escalates to the point the case winds up in juvenile court. The story is timely—and historical. Its release in 2015 celebrates the  800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which established the rule of law in 1215, as a result of King John of England’s consistent bullying—or intimidating—of his barons and citizens. Through Justice Case Files #5: The Case of the Cyberbully, students learn what to do if they are being bullied, how the courts protect them, and how Magna Carta has influenced numerous documents throughout the years (including the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence) drafted to protect the rights of the people and to limit the powers of others. To view the book please go to www.ncsc.org/cyberbully. To order, please go to www.ncsc.org/justicecasefiles.


Speaking of bullying …

To raise awareness about the consequences of bullying, to build on the message in Justice Case Files, and to recognize the anniversary of Magna Carta, NCSC’s 2015 Civics Education Essay Contest is asking elementary and middle-school students to address this topic.  For the contest, each age group is asked to write about the following questions by February 27:

3rd-5th graders:

  • What should you do if you or a classmate are being bullied?

6th-9th graders:

  • Why is bullying an issue that needs to be addressed? What can you, your school, your parents, and your classmates do to stop it?

Entries for all grade levels must be 100 words or less and submitted online at www.ncsc.org/contest.  Winners will receive an Amazon gift card and copies of Justice Case Files #5.


NCSC develops interactive security program

The National Center for State Courts has just launched a highly interactive, online training course for court security officers initially developed for the state of Arkansas. This course features virtual simulations of active shooter events, role-playing exercises, and scenario-based interactive assessments allowing users to  put knowledge into action immediately. Participants who successfully complete the course will be fully prepared in how to respond to an active shooter and equipped with the best practices in court security, judicial management threats, and body language as a communication tool. Registration is free and enrollment is currently under way.


NCSC announces recipients of  O’Connor and Burger Awards


Judicially Speaking, a Colorado-based civics education program, will receive the 2015 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education. The award honors an organization, court, or individual who has promoted, inspired, improved, or led an innovation or accomplishment in the field of civics education related to the justice system. Judicially Speaking stands apart from other programs because of its reach, its focus on teaching about the judiciary and the rule of law, and the ease in which it can be replicated in other states. Arthur W. Pepin, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts in New Mexico, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Warren E. Burger Award. Named for the late Chief Justice of the United States, the Warren E. Burger award honors a state court system administrative official who demonstrates professional expertise, leadership, integrity, creativity, innovativeness, and sound judgment.


New book discusses role of courts in 21st century

What courts need to do to deal with growing caseloads and better serve litigants is the subject of Reimagining Courts: A Design for the Twenty-First Century, by Victor E. Flango, retired executive director of program resource development, and Thomas M. Clarke, vice president for research and technology, National Center for State Courts. The authors describe a “new vision” for courts organized around the types of cases courts are designed to handle and adopting the concept of a litigant as a “customer.” They suggest examining, disentangling, and redefining key court processing tracks to better serve the court customer and a method of "case triage" to select the most effective and most appropriate processing track. The book was published by Temple University Press in Philadelphia.


NCSC reading room


A new issue on judicial performance evaluation was published in the Oñati Socio-Legal Series. The 12 articles offer an international perspective on evaluating judges. Articles consider the conceptual and methodological issues intrinsic to judicial evaluations; describe the experiences of senior judges in Australia, Europe, and the United States as evaluators and subjects of evaluations; and report new research related to the judicial evaluation process. The result is a comprehensive overview of current practices and issues regarding the evaluation of judges and emerging approaches to conducting judicial performance evaluations. Jennifer Elek and David Rottman of NCSC contributed “Methodologies for Measuring Judicial Performance: The Problem of Bias,” and Rottman co-wrote, with Tom Tyler, “Thinking About Judges and Judicial Performance: Perspectives of the Public and Court Users.
Grand juries have been much in the news lately. This month’s Trends in State Courts online article is the first of a two-part series on the pros and cons of the grand-jury system in criminal cases.

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