VOLUME 8, ISSUE 3 | MARCH 2017
NCSC 2016 Annual Report released
Court community engagement and court fines, fees, and bail practices were two major initiatives NCSC took on last year, as discussed in our 2016 Annual Report, released this week. “Court and community engagement has taken on a new importance in the wake of events in Ferguson, Missouri and other cities, where courts are viewed as revenue centers,” NCSC President Mary McQueen said in the report. The Annual Report also provides a broad view of various other projects and issues NCSC is working on, from workload assessments to civil justice to elder abuse. Readers will also learn about NCSC donors and the court leaders we recognized in 2016.
NCSC staff helps Tunisia create new caseload system
NCSC and the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) are assisting the Tunisian judiciary with its first weighted caseload study. Staff from NCSC’s International and Research divisions are working to complete the project in 2017. Recently, members of the Research Division visited courts in Tunis, Sousse, and Bizerte, three major cities on the Tunisian coast. NCSC has been working in Tunisia since February 2016, implementing the Improving Court Administration Program funded by the U.S. Department of State. In partnership with ILAC, NCSC supports the Tunisian Ministry of Justice and six pilot courts to implement reforms designed to improve the efficiency and accessibility of judicial administration.
NCSC’s Trends in State Courts has launched a new website that provides informative, timely updates about current issues for state court leaders. The website’s homepage highlights four resources: the long-standing Trends annual publication; special monthly online articles; Trends Close Up (a quarterly print publication that focuses on one timely issue); and Court Buzz (short videos that explain topical questions presented to NCSC’s knowledge analysts by those in the state-court community). For example, the most recent Court Buzz video discusses training on secondary trauma for judges and court staff.
CJI develops a Guide to Building Civil Case Management Teams
The Civil Justice Initiative has released its latest tool: A Guide to Building Civil Case Management Teams. The CCMT Guide describes how administrative and skilled court staff can be trained and empowered to undertake case management responsibilities, freeing judicial officers to focus on tasks that require their judicial expertise. The CCMT Guide specifically addresses Recommendation 7 of the CCJ/COSCA Civil Justice Improvements Committee, which proposes a radically different staffing model for civil case processing that delegates substantial responsibility for routine case management to specially trained professional staff supported by effective case technology.
NCSC reading room
Evidence-based governance and statistical data have become fundamental for creating policies and making political decisions. In The Quiet Power of Indicators: Measuring Governance, Corruption, and the Rule of Law (edited by Sally Engle Merry, Kevin Davis, and Benedict Kingsbury), New York University professors examine the quiet exercise of power through scales, ranks, and composite indexes, which they refer to as indicators. Using nine original case studies, they investigate the method of how “leading” indicators are produced, such as Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index. Part one explores global indicators of governance, corruption, and rule of law by six well-known organizations, and part two considers local indicators. The underlying theoretical framework is determining the connection between knowledge and power. This book is available from NCSC’s Library.
Research has found that eyewitness-identification testimony can be very unreliable. This month’s Trends in State Courts article discusses how law enforcement and the courts should follow the recommendations of social scientists when using and assessing eyewitness techniques, such as lineups, in criminal cases.
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