@TheCenter from NCSC

VOLUME 8, ISSUE 1 | JANUARY 2017

Former Indiana court executive honored with the Warren E. Burger Award

Recently retired Indiana Executive Director Lilia Judson has been named recipient of the 2016 Warren E. Burger Award for Excellence in Court Administration, one of the highest awards bestowed by NCSC.  Named for the late Chief Justice of the United States, the Burger Award honors a state court administrative official who demonstrates professional skill, leadership, integrity, creativity, innovativeness, and exceptional judgment. “Lilia Judson has served as a national role model for court leaders across the country, always introducing and supporting innovations that make our courts more effective and accessible. She led the charge on electronic filing of court records in Indiana and has dedicated her professional life to improving the administration of justice,” said NCSC President Mary McQueen. Judson, who retired in September 2016, was appointed executive director in 1998, after serving in several capacities for the Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Judicial Study Commission since 1976. In May 2015, the Indiana Supreme Court named Judson the interim chief administrative officer, where she helped the court move to a more efficient and transparent internal organizational structure. Judson served as president of the Conference of State Court Administrators and as vice chair of the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors in 2010-2011.

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Access and fairness the focus of NCSC strategic plan

At its November 2016 meeting, NCSC’s Board of Directors adopted a three-year Access and Fairness Campaign Plan to guide the work of the organization between 2017-2019. It contains five initiatives to improve public confidence in the courts:

  • Reduce the costs, time, and complexity of traditional dispute resolution processes
  • Improve the trust of minority and economically disadvantaged communities
  • Grow online solutions to expand access to courts
  • Demonstrate a commitment to fair, impartial, and accountable courts
  • Provide judicial leaders with additional governance skills

These five initiatives are the product of intensive discussions with advisory committees and court association leaders, a review of the major trends and issues identified by other court organizations, and key findings from NCSC public opinion polls. The initiatives provide an ability to organize and galvanize the collective efforts of the court community around institutional outcomes that will result in tangible improvements to the public perception of fairness and access to state courts.

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“Court navigators” help balance the legal playing field for NYC tenants facing eviction
 

Tenants facing eviction in New York City received “significantly better results” in court when they used “court navigators” to help them, according to a new study co-authored by Tom Clarke, NCSC vice president of research and technology. The use of “court navigators,” who are not lawyers, addresses a considerable imbalance in legal representation: The vast majority of landlords retain attorneys, while 90 percent of the tenants did not have a lawyer, the study found. The New York City Court Navigators program uses trained and supervised individuals with no prior formal legal training to provide one-on-one assistance to unrepresented litigants in the city’s housing and civil courts. Navigators provide information, assist litigants in accessing and completing court-required simplified forms, attend settlement negotiations, and accompany unrepresented litigants into the courtroom. The study was conducted by researchers from the American Bar Foundation and the National Center for State Courts and funded by the Public Welfare Foundation. The executive summary and the full report can be found here.

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CourtHack 2.0 coming in spring 2017

Robot lawyers that help file court appeals and geo-positioning technology that alerts police officers when court orders are being served in their area are just two of the innovative technologies developed at NCSC’s first CourtHack in 2016. It was so successful that CourtHack 2.0 is being held April 22-23, 2017, at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick. CourtHack aims to attract the brightest legal minds, technologists, entrepreneurs, and others to compete in a 30-hour hackathon to develop technologies to improve the administration of justice.  Court experts, including judges, court administrators, and court CIOs from across the country, participate as mentors and advisors. Two of the 2016 winning teams presented their solutions in December at NCSC’s e-Courts Conference. View their presentations at www.e-courts.org (“Court Hack Grand Prize Winners Present: Generating New Ideas for Court Technology” and “Court Hack One Legal Prize Winners Present ‘SecurCity’”).  For more information go to www.courthack.org.

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Wanted: Students for NCSC’s Civics Education Essay Contest

In recognition of Law Day, May 1, 2017, NCSC is sponsoring its fourth annual Civics Education Essay Contest. The question: What does it mean to be a U.S. citizen? The national contest is open to 3rd through 12th graders. There will be three categories of winners: 3rd-6th grade; 7th- 9th grade; and 10th-12th grade. Teachers are encouraged to incorporate our contest question about the 14th Amendment into their lesson plans and have students submit their essays (of no more than 100 words) online at www.ncsc.org/contest. Deadline is February 24, 2017.

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Tell us about your access-to-justice innovations

NCSC researchers are partnering with the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession and Thomson Reuters to identify existing access-to-justice innovations in the state courts and to gather information on what future developments focused on lay users should include. Please complete this short survey by February 1 to share your jurisdiction’s innovation achievements and to identify the key user-focused developments for tomorrow’s courts.

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NCSC reading room

 

How can simulations of subjectivity assist with the administration of justice? In Experiencing Other Minds in the Courtroom, Neal Feigenson, dean and law professor at Quinnipiac University, discusses two broad perspectives on the simulation of subjective experience and distinguishes the three types of simulations: artist’s sketch, psychophysical, and machine readout. Feigenson reviews cases in which jurors used demonstrative evidence to “illustrate” their words, allowing decision makers to understand their experience, and the affect the visual displays played in judicial outcomes. He concludes by assessing the future of simulations and contends that courts are likely to see an increasing number. This book is available from the NCSC Library.

Many self-represented litigants are unable to go to the courthouse to conduct routine business. This month’s Trends in State Courts article discusses how courts are now providing remote services, which benefit both litigants and court staff.

 
 
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