@TheCenter from NCSC

VOLUME 6, ISSUE 5 | MAY 2015

Oh, the places NCSC’s ICM Fellows will go

Twenty-two graduates from the ICM Fellows Program celebrated their achievement at the U.S. Supreme Court on May 8, 2015.  Margaret R. Allen of Columbus, Ohio, was chosen to represent the class as spokesperson.  ICM Fellows certification is the highest and most demanding professional development certificate offered by the Institute for Court Management (ICM).  To become an ICM Fellow, participants complete a rigorous sixteen-month program that includes the design and completion of an independent court research and improvement project that contributes to the growing professional literature on court administration.  Since 1970 over 1,200 court leaders have become Fellows of the Institute for Court Management. 


Judicial salaries show steady increase

The most recent Survey of Judicial Salaries shows that judicial salaries are slowly approaching pre-recession rates (roughly 3.2%) with an average increase of 2.3% in 2014. Highlights from the recent survey include new data resulting from the creation of the Nevada Court of Appeals, and an unusual legislative scenario that saw Oklahoma general-jurisdiction judges receiving raises while their colleagues in superior courts did not. The Survey of Judicial Salaries, published twice annually for more than 40 years by NCSC (with the support of state court administrative offices across the country), serves as the primary record of compensation for state judicial officers and state court administrators.  In the decade before 2008 the average salary increase for judges was 3.24% annually, while salaries stagnated between 2008 and 2012. The Judicial Salary Tracker website hosts archives, state-by-state information on judicial benefits (new 2015 data), and background on how states set their salaries.  In early 2015, NCSC collected comprehensive judicial retirement information from 45 states using a 15-question survey.  The results are accessible on the Salary Tracker. It is updated regularly and any questions or comments can be forwarded to Knowledge and Information Services Analyst Jarret Hann.


Utah rules revisions = shorter time to disposition, fewer discovery disputes

In November 2011, the Utah Supreme Court revised the rules governing discovery in civil cases.  The revisions expressly provide that the amount of discovery undertaken should be proportional to the amount at stake in the litigation, and established three separate discovery tiers that specify the amount of permissible discovery based on the amount-in-controversy stated in the complaint.  NCSC’s Civil Justice Initiative evaluated the impact of the revision and found that the revisions significantly reduced the time to disposition and, in most types of cases, the frequency of discovery disputes.  The revisions also resulted in increased rates of legal representation by plaintiffs in civil cases other than debt-collection and domestic cases, and increased settlements.


And the winners of NCSC’s Civics Education Essay Contest are…

Victoria Bliley, a fifth-grade student at Walsingham Academy Lower School in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Rebecca Yermish, a seventh-grade student at DeMasi Middle School in Evesham Township, New Jersey, are the first-place winners of the NCSC’s 2015 Civics Education Essay Contest, held to recognize Law Day, May 1. NCSC selected bullying as the essay theme because the issue resonates with today’s students–and it provides a history lesson.  Law Day 2015 celebrates the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which was created, in part, because King John bullied his barons. Read the press release for a complete list of winners. In honor of Law Day, NCSC also released three ‘mini’ Cartas–videos of 50 seconds or less that teach about Magna Carta’s relevance today. Our “Magna” Carta is a six-minute video featuring state court chief justices, state court administrations, the NCSC president, and the Library of Congress’s law librarian.


Distinguished Service Awards presented to court leaders

Two court leaders recently were presented NCSC Distinguished Service Awards for their commitment to and support of the justice system and the mission of the National Center for State Courts. Richard E. Moellmer, Trial Court Administrator for the Washington County (Oregon) Circuit Court, received the award for the trial court administrator level. He was recognized for his expertise and innovation in developing initiatives that strengthen court governance and have made courts more efficient. Judge Lora J. Livingston of Travis County, Texas, received the award for the state trial court judge level. Judge Livingston was recognized for her tireless work in the area of pro bono. She has dedicated much of her career to working in legal services and improving access to courts for everyone. This week, NCSC is also presenting a Distinguished Service Award to Carmel Capati, manager of the Court Interpreter Program of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, who is receiving the award for the state court administrator level. Capati has worked closely with NCSC, the Conference of Chief Justices, and the Conference of State Court Administrators on language-access issues in the courts. She has educated numerous judges, court clerks, court staff, and attorneys on state and federal laws regarding language access in the courts. NCSC awards six Distinguished Service Awards annually to court leaders at different levels of courts and positions.


Who would you nominate for NCSC’s Rehnquist Award?

NCSC is currently accepting nominations for the 2015 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, one of the nation’s highest judicial honors. Nominations are due Friday, June 12, 2015. The Rehnquist Award recognizes a state court judge who demonstrates the outstanding qualities of judicial excellence, including integrity, fairness, open-mindedness, knowledge of the law, professional ethics, sound judgment, intellectual courage, and decisiveness. The recipient is recognized during an awards ceremony held at the U.S. Supreme Court, hosted by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. Last year’s honoree was Judge Steve Leben of the Kansas Court of Appeals, pictured here with Chief Justice Roberts. Nominations may be submitted to Stacey Smith, NCSC, 300 Newport Ave., Williamsburg, VA 23185 or by email.


NCSC reading room


Want to learn more about national best practices for performance measures? Read “Performance Measurement of Georgia’s Accountability Courts,” by Tracy J. (TJ) BeMent, recipient of the 2015 ICM Fellows Award of Merit for Applied Research. TJ explored how to best measure the performance of Georgia’s 125 accountability courts using input from judges, court officials, and other stakeholders to identify meaningful performance measures. Georgia’s accountability courts cover a broad range of problem-solving courts, including drug and mental health courts for adults and juveniles, DUI courts, family treatment courts, veterans’ courts, domestic violence courts, and child support courts.

Since 2006 Nevada has improved their court statistics model to meet the national model in the National Center for State Courts’ State Court Guide for Statistical Reporting. This month’s Trends in State Courts article discusses how Nevada courts are producing caseload measures on detailed case types, which allows for more informed decisions on matters affecting the Nevada judiciary.

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