NCSC in the news

 
Only 2% of federal criminal defendants go to trial, and most who do are found guilty

Statistics about trial rates in state courts are harder to come by because each state runs its own court system and no standardized record-keeping system covers all states. But trial rates in criminal cases tend to be very low in the states for which data is available, according to a database maintained by the National Center for State Courts, an independent research organization focused on the state judiciary. Read the full story from Pew Research.

 
90 percent of federal defendants plead guilty: report

According to Pew, there is not standardized data on state court trial rates, but they are also generally low. Pew's report said that in many state courts in 2017, fewer than 3 percent of criminal cases went to jury trials, citing information from a National Center for State Courts database. Read the full story from the Hill.

 
The right to an attorney

According to the National Center for State Courts, plaintiffs in a wide variety of civil cases are twice as likely to win when only their side is represented by an attorney as they are when there is counsel on both sides. Read the full story from Governing.

 
If A Pandemic Hits, Nebraska's Courts Plan To Protect Legal System

The National Center for State Courts had an initiative whereby they were assisting a number of jurisdictions in putting together these kinds of emergency response bench books, or guides. Read the full story from NetNebraska.org.

 
New Mexico to study letting non-lawyers give legal help

A 2017 study by the American Bar Association and the National Center for State Courts determined that legal technicians in Washington "are adequately trained for the work they're doing." The study also said the program is "effective at providing inexpensive legal help to people of modest means." Read the full story from Las Cruces Sun News.

 
State judges seek pay raises

Citing the 2019 National Center for State Courts report on judicial salaries, Kemp said the pay scale for Arkansas' associate justices ranks 26th among state supreme courts in the U.S. Meanwhile, the report found that Arkansas Court of Appeals and circuit judges' salaries rank 18th and 16th, respectively, among comparable courts in other states. Read the full story from the Arkansas Democrat Daily.

 
Educators work across sectors to address impact of opioid abuse on students

Tara Kunkel, a principal court management consultant with the National Center for State Courts, added that programs such as Buffalo’s Opioid Intervention Court, a model that is now spreading to other counties in the region, are thinking about the whole family when working with someone who has experienced a non-fatal overdose. Judges handing out sentences such as free family memberships to the YMCA is one example, she said. Read the full story from Education Dive.

 
Legal Aid Groups Think Bold To Fill Rural Gaps

Using "Justice For All" grant money from the National Center for State Courts and the Public Welfare Foundation, ALSC placed AmeriCorps members at six tribally operated health care facilities to address civil issues that can harm health, like family disputes. Read the full story from Law 360.

 
Merit selection supporters trying to woo votes from competing amendment

According to the National Center for State Courts, there are 10 states in which appellate judges are tied to a district in some way. Read the full story from witf.

 
Help ensure Jefferson County courts dole out equal justice for all

In 2015, the National Center for State Courts conducted its annual “State of State Courts” poll to gauge public perception of the court system with a focus on three main areas — customer service, inefficiency and bias. The results of that survey indicated minorities have less confidence and trust in the court system, with only 32% of African Americans responding that they believe courts provide equal justice to all. Respondents also generally believed that African Americans and the poor receive worse treatment by the courts. Read the full story from the Courier Journal.

 
Utah's Online Dispute Platform Is Streamlining Small Claims

Evaluative data will not be publicly released until the National Center for State Courts, or NCSC, has had an opportunity to review and analyze the data, which it will likely begin doing in May. But according to Utah Supreme Court Justice Deno Himonas, who has been instrumental in developing the pilot, between its launch last September and April 4, 2019, there were 1,021 case filings under the ODR program, and returns of service in 573, or 56% — a marked improvement over the baseline response rate of about 15%. Read the full story from Law 360.

 
‘C u in court’: Text messages now remind defendants to show up

Text messages were initially used by some courts to remind people to report for jury duty, said Bill Raftery, a senior analyst with the National Center for State CourtsRead the full story from Fox 8 Cleveland.

 
Memphis judge faces scrutiny over Facebook posts

Many other judges around the country have faced punishment over online behavior, according to a list maintained by the Center for Judicial Ethics at the National Center for State Courts in Virginia. Read the full story from Commercial Appeal.

 
County moves ahead on major projects

County officials were notified about the problems at 595 Newark Ave. more than 25 years ago. Now the cost is nearly 10 times what the county originally estimated. A 1988 study by the National Center for State Courts showed that the administration building was “functionally unsatisfactory in terms of circulation, structural, and environmental systems.” Read the full article from HudsonReporter.com.

 
Could Politics Make Courts A Sidekick Branch Of Government?

Legislative efforts to rein in judicial power have manifested in different ways over the years, said William Raftery, a senior analyst at the National Center for State Courts. Read the full article from Law360.

 
Lisa Foster On The Impact Of Court Fines And Fees

Although it often flies under the radar, court costs and fees have grown rapidly in the past 10 years, according to research from the Brennan Center and the National Center for State Courts, and they can add up quickly for anyone who comes into contact with any court system. Many people simply can’t afford to pay them, which can wreak havoc on their lives. Read the full article from Law 360.

 
Franklin County courts have growing need for Nepali interpreters

Ohio residents speak about 150 languages, according to Romero. For some languages such as Nepali and Somali, interpreters can only be registered — instead of certified — because the National Center for State Courts offers no oral exams in their languages, Romero said. Read the full story from the Columbia Dispatch.

 
Washington County Circuit Court to get new courtroom as judge is added

Using a model developed by the National Center for State Courts, judicial need for fiscal 2020 was primarily based on the average number and type of cases filed in the most recent three years — from fiscal 2016 to 2018. Read the full article from Herald-Mail Media.

 
New Jersey Courts See Long-Term Plunge in All Filings

The National Center for State Courts said that a decline in filing volume, and resultant notions that courts are outliving their usefulness, are cause for concern. Read the full story from the New Jersey Law Journal.

 
'It's like Joe's death meant nothing': New Orleans criminal court delays wear down families

Vidrine’s case was one of 4,045 new felony cases randomly assigned to the 12 Orleans Parish criminal court judges in 2016, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a nonprofit watchdog that compiles a yearly report on judicial efficiency. Performance measures from the National Center for State Courts say 98 percent of felony criminal cases should be closed within a year’s time. But as the MCC noted, in 2016, roughly a third of felony cases in New Orleans had been open longer than a year. Read the full story from nola.com.

 
Presumed Innocent? A Funder Steps Up Its Push Against a Deeply Unfair Pretrial Justice System

National Center for State Courts will conduct research, develop benchmarks, and advise state courts on how to improve efficiency in criminal case processing. Read the full story from Inside Philanthropy.

 
Another day in court

The National Center for State Courts says the number one complaint citizens have about jury duty is the waiting — waiting for orientation to begin, waiting in the hallway during last-minute motions, waiting to find out who’ll be impaneled. Read the full story from the Daily Leader.

 
Public Sees Benefits to Resolving Civil Court Cases Online

A recent survey by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) found that 59 percent of registered voters agree that “state courts are not doing enough to empower regular people to navigate the court system without an attorney.” And, despite some reservations, most are willing to try using web-based tools to settle certain kinds of disputes more expeditiously and efficiently. Read the full story from Pew.

 
SXSW 2019: Utah, ‘Pajama Court’ and Resolving Cases Online

There are three essential components for ODR in this context, said Paul Embley, the CIO and technology division director at the National Center for State Courts — that it operates exclusively online, that it is explicitly designed to assist litigants in resolving disputes or cases and that it is supported by the legal system. Read the full story from GovTech.

 
Honorable Chief Justice Rhys S. Hodge receives the National Center for State Court’s Distinguished Service Award

Justice Rhys S. Hodge, Chief Justice of the Virgin Islands Supreme Court is the recipient of the 2018 National Center for State Courts' (NCSC) Distinguished Service Award. This award is presented annually to those who have made significant contributions to the justice system and who have supported the mission of NCSC. Read the full story from the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands.

 
Kentucky Access to Justice Commission receives grant

Kentucky is one of 11 states to receive a Justice for All planning grant from the National Center for State Courts. The Justice for All project supports Access to Justice Commissions in their efforts to form partnerships with stakeholders in the civil justice community. The grant is supported by funding from the Public Welfare Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. Read the full story from Glasgow Daily Times.

 
Spokane County Superior Court judges want felony cases to move faster, but public defenders say that the new expectations go too far

The effort stems from a report compiled by the National Center for State Courts, brought in last year to review Spokane County Superior Court's case processing practices. Read the full story from Inlander.

 
Right-size the new courthouse

As for the “smarter” part, the court should follow the example of the court in Washington County from a few years ago. It should seek a grant from the State Justice Institute (a federally-funded entity) and use that grant to hire the Justice Management Institute or the National Center for State Courts. Consultants would assess how the court currently manages its work and suggest management changes to allow more efficiency and effectiveness. Read the full story from the Register-Guard.

 
Can Technology Help Modernize the Nation’s Civil Courts?

Experts with a range of perspectives came together Nov. 30 in Arlington, Virginia, to discuss online dispute resolution in a session organized by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Center for State Courts. Read the full story from Pew.

 
Georgia Appeals, Superior Court Judges Beat National Average Salaries

Judges at Georgia’s Court of Appeals and superior courts earn, on average, more than their counterparts in other states, while justices at the Supreme Court of Georgia earn close to the national average for state high court jurists, according to a study by the National Center for State Courts. Read the full story from the Daily Report.

 
Reading this on your phone, tablet or computer? This post is for you!

While primarily used by attorneys, the use by pro-se litigants who may not have the same level of technical proficiency or legal knowledge could create access to justice issues, as the National Center for State Courts has addressed. Read the full story from Legal Solutions Blog.

 
Pay for Maine jurors in state courts could more than triple

The $50-per-day rate would put Maine at the top of the pay scale for jurors nationally after remaining near the bottom for decades, according to the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia. In New England, Massachusetts pays $50 per day beginning on the fourth day of jury duty. New Hampshire pays $20, Rhode Island pays $15, and Vermont pays between $15 and $20. Read the full story from Bangor Daily News.

 
In Court, Where Are Siri and Alexa?

Fourteen states use audio or video recorders in lieu of court reporters, according to a 2015 study by the National Center for State Courts. Many of the states cite cost as the reason for the shift to digital. Read the full story from The Marshall Project.

 
Beyond guilt or innocence, should jurors weigh if law is worth enforcing?

“It is a power of the jury that the jury has always had.... And as long as we have jury trials it probably always will exist,” says Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts. Read the full story from The Christian Science Monitor.

 
How Do They Decide Who Serves Jury Duty?

According to the National Center for State Courts, the national average for responding to jury summons is 91 percent. Minnesota doesn’t keep recent statistics on that its response rate, but Lussier says it’s better than the national average. Read the full story from CBS Minnesota.

 
Bills in Annapolis aim to allow greater public scrutiny of Maryland judges

Most states — including Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania — list judges’ names, said Bill Raferty, an analyst for the National Center for State Courts. “There is always a name attached to the judge.” Read the full story from the Capital Gazette. 

 
A majority of the Arizona Supreme Court will soon be selected by Gov. Doug Ducey

Arizonans have kicked almost no one off the bench so far. But voters in Iowa, Colorado and Florida have set a precedent for doing so — or attempting to — when they felt the courts shifted too far in one direction, according to Bill Raftery, an analyst with the National Center for State Courts. Read the full story from azcentral.

 
Washington County needs sixth Circuit Court judge, Md. Judiciary says

Using a model developed by the National Center for State Courts, judicial need for fiscal 2020 was primarily based on the average number and type of cases filed in the most recent three years — from fiscal 2016 to 2018. Read the full story from Herald-Mail Media.

 
‘El Chapo’ jurors could face a long-term threat: PTSD

The Health and Human Services’ Employee Assistance Program “provides any person who is an employee of the federal government up to six confidential counseling sessions with clinical social workers or counselors to work through things,” said Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts. Because jurors in federal court are considered temporary government employees, “the judge will extend the jurors’ term of service for six months to a year so the jurors can access those federal benefits.” Read the full story from the Los Angeles Times.

 
Inside the courtroom: my jury duty experience

"I thought it was uncommon for me to be selected because I was fairly new to the government system. I’m a college student that only registered to vote the year before. They say the selection is random, but I’m not sure that’s the case. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) reported that in a given year, 32 million people get summoned for service. Also, it’s estimated that only 1.5 million people actually get selected to serve on a jury. There are many variables that affect the probability of being selected for jury duty." Read the full story from Loquitur.

 
Arkansas, Texas supreme courts in Texarkana to hear arguments

"We enjoy being here. We've been looking forward to this for quite a while," Arkansas Chief Justice John Dan Kemp told those gathered at the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana campus. "The National Center for State Courts has indicated that this is the first time two state supreme courts have met to hear oral arguments in adjoining cities like this, so this is an historic occasion and we are glad to be a part of it." Read the full story from the Texarkana Gazette.

 
New Charleston County Veterans Court to serve those who served US

The first Veterans Courts took root in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2008, according to the National Center for State Courts. They since have expanded across the country, including in both Savannah and Fayetteville, N.C. Read the full story from The Post and Courier.

 
Survey says most residents want intermediate court, trial lawyers group calls it unnecessary

“Despite claims to the contrary, automatic right of appeal does exist in West Virginia,” New said. “It has been verified by the independent National Center for State Courts. You don't need to create a whole new court to fix something that's not broken.” Read the full story from the West Virginia Record.

 
With Smack-Talking Invective, Lawyer Groups Appeal to Public as One Big Jury Pool

Although statistics around the country are patchy, the volume of new tort cases is widely regarded to have fallen over the years. The most recent figures from the National Center for State Courts, covering 31 states, show that in 2017 new tort suits were filed by individuals and businesses at a rate of 2.08 for every 1,000 Americans. Read the full story from fairwarning.org.

 
Thank you for your service

The first veteran’s court opened in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2008, based on drug treatment and/or mental health treatment courts where substance abuse or mental health treatment is offered as an alternative to incarceration, according to the National Center for State Courts. Read the full story from the Daily Item.

 
Ted Deutch Champions Status of the Sixth Amendment Act

According to the National Center for State Courts, 70 percent to 80 percent of all criminal cases each year are misdemeanor charges which can result in fines or a term of imprisonment of less than one year,” Deutch’s office noted. Read the full story from Florida Daily.

 
Chief justice talks about state’s growing problem-solving courts

Nebraska was chosen by the National Center for State Courts as one of six sites nationally to participate in a project involving community engagement that will focus on disparate treatment of Native Americans in the state court system. Read the full story from the Beatrice Daily Sun.

 
Court Fines, Fees ‘Perpetuate’ Poverty: Expert

Experts estimate that criminal-justice debt owed by poor defendants totals tens of billions of dollars, and that number is likely to grow. National Public Radio, in a survey with the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Center for State Courts, found that 48 states increased civil and criminal court fees from 2010 to 2014. Read the full story from the Crime Report.

 
How Cities Make Money by Fining the Poor

No government agency comprehensively tracks the extent of criminal-justice debt owed by poor defendants, but experts estimate that those fines and fees total tens of billions of dollars. That number is likely to grow in coming years, and significantly: National Public Radio, in a survey conducted with the Brennan Center for Justice and the National Center for State Courts, found that 48 states increased their civil and criminal court fees from 2010 to 2014. Read the full story from the New York Times.

 
Online Dispute Resolution Offers a New Way to Access Local Courts

This experience was reflected in the findings of a national survey conducted by the nonprofit National Center for State Courts (NCSC), in which more than 80 percent of respondents said they want more online access to local courts, including the ability to ask for guidance from court staff rather than come to the courthouse. Read the full story from Pew.