@TheCenter from NCSC


NCSC saddened by recent losses of national judicial leaders

NCSC mourns the recent loss of two national leaders, within days of one another. Jim Hannah, the former Chief Justice of Arkansas, passed away January 14 at the age of 71. Judith Kaye, the former Chief Judge of New York, passed away in New York City January 7 at the age of 77. Both served concurrent terms as President of the Conference of Chief Justices and as Chair of NCSC’s Board of Directors.  Chief Justice Hannah’s tenure was in 2014-2015, and Chief Judge Kaye served in these positions 2002-2003. Chief Justice Hannah, the immediate past president of CCJ, served as the leader of the Arkansas judicial branch between 2005-2015.  David Gilbertson, the current president of CCJ and a close friend of Chief Justice Hannah’s, noted: “Every person who respects the rule of law has lost a good friend. Besides providing outstanding legal leadership to the citizens of Arkansas for many years as its Chief Justice, Jim was a dominant force on various judicial issues on the national level. If you knew Chief Justice Hannah you respected his leadership and liked him as a person. All of us who came into contact with him were the better for it.” Colleagues have praised Chief Judge Kaye as a judge, as an administrative leader, and for her compassion. She was the first woman ever appointed to the highest court in New York, and served as chief judge from 1993-2008—longer than any of her predecessors.

Cleveland court administrator named Warren E. Burger Award recipient

Russell R Brown III, court administrator of the Cleveland Municipal Court, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Warren E. Burger Award for excellence in court administration, one of the highest awards presented annually by the National Center for State Courts. Named for the late Chief Justice of the United States who helped found NCSC, the Warren E. Burger award honors a state court administrative official who demonstrates professional expertise, leadership, integrity, creativity, innovativeness, and sound judgment. “Russell Brown is an exceptional leader, possessing vision, knowledge, and determination to make a difference and improve justice. He has effectively led the Cleveland Municipal Court, introducing and implementing numerous innovative programs that improve lives,” says NCSC President Mary McQueen. Brown’s strong leadership skills have improved courts nationally, as well as in Ohio. Recently, Brown served on a national committee that has established best practices for municipal courts. As Cleveland Municipal Court administrator, Brown manages and administers a court system of 263 employees.


Wanted: Competitors for inaugural CourtHack

NCSC is sponsoring the first-ever CourtHack—a 30-hour hackathon—designed to develop new and innovative solutions to improve our nation’s court systems. CourtHack takes place March 4-5, 2016 at the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you’re an innovative and enthusiastic legal mind, technologist, or entrepreneur, you’re the perfect candidate for the hackathon. Technical business and legal mentors are matched with teams they can actively support before, during, and after the event. Court experts—judges, state court administrators, and CIOs—from around the country will offer expertise as members of the panel of judges. Teams will compete for sizable cash and non-cash prizes, key meetings with industry decision makers, and a demo spot at e-Courts 2016 in Las Vegas. Register today at www.courthack.org.


Court security training now offered in online curriculum

NCSC’s Court Consulting Services (CCS) recently partnered with the Merced County Superior Courthouse in California to provide online curriculum for its courthouse security training program. Over the past 10 years, CCS has developed specialized security consultation and training to state courts, conducting more than 300 security assessments and trainings across the country. Recently, CCS has conducted security projects in six states and one U.S. territory. In addition to the Merced project, CCJ is involved in:
  • Ongoing security consultation for a new courthouse in Broward County, Florida regarding building architecture, operations, and equipment/technology
  • Five courthouse security assessments and statewide emergency response training in Minnesota
  • Security assessments and implementation planning in Guam
  • Security assessment and remodel concept design for the Hancock County, Ohio Probate and Juvenile Court


NCSC reading room


Persons with disabilities face challenges participating not only in the justice system, but also in public life. In Disabled Justice? Access to Justice and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ellionóir Flynn, a professor at the National University of Ireland, Galway, analyzes the experience of the disabled in justice systems worldwide. She discusses access to justice for the disabled, incorporation of disability into legal education and practice, participation in court, and other key topics. Flynn also makes recommendations for reform. This book is available from NCSC’s Library.
A number of jurisdictions use bond schedules to establish the monetary amount of bonds for criminal defendants, but there have been lawsuits challenging this practice as unconstitutional. This month’s Trends in State Courts article discusses bond schedules, the constitutional argument against them, and why courts should consider discontinuing this practice.

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