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Follow election night coverage on Gavel to Gavel

Join Gavel to Gavel’s Bill Raftery for live election night results and coverage of the 60+ state supreme court races and four ballot items that could have direct impacts on state court systems. Voters will be asked whether to extend or eliminate mandatory retirement ages for judges (Oregon and Pennsylvania), whether the legislature should take over the state’s judicial disciplinary commission (Georgia), and whether to extend the terms in office for clerks of court from two years to four years (Arkansas). Coverage begins election night starting at 7PM Eastern at www.ncsc.org/elections. In other election news: Judges in Colorado, Florida, and Virginia can turn to the new State Election Law eBenchbook for help resolving complex election disputes and navigating the country’s election codes. The eBenchbook, which is still being developed to eventually include all states, is part of the Election Law Program, a joint project of NCSC and William and Mary Law School.


From NCSC intern to Virginia Supreme Court

Justice Elizabeth McClanahan of the Virginia Supreme Court recently took a trip down memory lane. She was in Williamsburg to deliver remarks as part of a speaking engagement at the College of William and Mary School of Law and used the opportunity to visit an old haunt: the headquarters of NCSC, where she interned as an undergraduate in the late 1970s and early 1980s. While touring the building, she noted that where NCSC Researcher Brenda Uekert’s office now stands, she once conducted research and wrote memos for the “Research and Information Services” division (now two separate NCSC divisions). Justice McClanahan visited with several staff members, including KIS Senior Analyst Deborah Smith. On comparing notes, they realized that Smith began her work at NCSC only a year or two after Justice McClanahan departed—and had both been supervised by Marilyn Roberts, a longtime NCSC staffer. As the building tour wrapped up, Justice McClanahan glanced at the executive office: “The interns were never allowed in there!” she remarked with a laugh.


NCSC updates best practices for court security

NCSC has updated Steps to Best Practices for Court Building Security for 2016, which provides an incremental approach to achieving the highest level of courthouse security. The Steps report, initially created in 2010 and first updated in 2013, organizes best practices in sequential steps, providing a blueprint for courts to adopt improvements in phases as their budgets allow. The report is based on the collective experiences of NCSC security experts, who have assessed hundreds of courthouses and provided security training nationwide. The report also draws on input from the Conference of Chief Justices/Conference of State Court Administrators Joint Committee on Security and Emergency Preparedness, as well as guidelines from the U.S. Marshals Service, National Sheriffs’ Association, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


e-Courts coming in December

e-Courts takes place December 12-14 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Registration is open and space is limited. Keynote speaker Gary Marchant will deliver a look into the future of courts, while the 2016 NCSC Court Hack winners will demonstrate their winning ideas. The exhibit hall is sold out and sure to feature the latest innovations in court technology. Check out the agenda on the website, and if you’re registered, you can start to plan your schedule and read more about the details of the sessions. You don’t want to miss a sold-out show, thought-provoking new education sessions, and a new venue. Join us!


Utah judge, law professor receive Distinguished Service Award

Judge William A. Thorne, Jr. (ret.), Utah Court of Appeals, and University of Houston Law Center Professor Allison Winnike received NCSC's 2016 Distinguished Service Award. Judge Thorne was honored for his work on the Judicial Engagement Project that focused on how to safely reduce the number of children in foster care through improved court policy and practice. Judge Thorne also assisted NCSC’s work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation on the Every Kid Deserves a Family Initiative. As a result of that collaboration, a judicial guidebook is being produced to help judges make better placement decisions and reduce the placement of foster youth in group homes. Professor Winnike

received the award for her work in public-health-emergency preparedness. She was the editor and contributing author of Control Measures and Public Health Emergencies: A Texas Bench Book and Preparing for a Pandemic: An Emergency Response Bench Book and Operational Guidebook for State Court Judges and Administrators as part of the Conference of Chief Justices Pandemic and Emergency Task Force. These were two of the six Distinguished Service awards that NCSC presents annually to those who have made significant contributions to the court system and to the work of NCSC.


NCSC reading room

Law professor Michael J. Graetz and Linda Greenhouse, former Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times, examine the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Warren Burger in The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right. The authors offer a different perspective of a time on the Court that has been understudied. Observers often do not realize the Burger Court’s influence, especially related to racial discrimination, women’s rights, and the right of corporations to spend money in politics. For example, Roe v. Wade was a Burger Court decision, even though many believe it was a Warren Court decision. This book provides a snapshot into the Burger Court using the justices’ papers; however, Warren Burger’s papers remain closed at the College of William and Mary until 2026. This book is available from the NCSC Library.

In a presidential election year, it is easy to lose sight of down-ballot items that have implications for state courts. This month’s online Trends article discusses initiatives involving judicial discipline and retirement that will be decided by voters.


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