@TheCenter from NCSC

VOLUME 8, ISSUE 7 | JULY 2017   

New Trends report focuses on fines, fees, and bail practices

People expect to pay fines for routine infractions, such as traffic violations. But courts also assess extra fees, which may not be related to the specific offense, or may be required by statute. However, the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into the relationship between law enforcement, the courts, and the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri revealed the impact of increasing court fines and fees, along with additional sanctions for nonpayment, on the poor. This year’s edition of Trends in State Courts, an annual publication of the National Center for State Courts, examines the issues posed by fines, fees, and bail practices at the local, state, and national levels, and what courts and states are doing in response. For example:

  • risk assessment in New Jersey to determine whether offenders pose a real threat to public safety
  • principles and recommendations by the Arizona Task Force on Fair Justice for All
  • reforms in Missouri to refocus municipal courts on the purposes of the justice system and not just on an offender’s ability to pay fines and fees

A limited number of print copies of Trends in State Courts 2017 are available from NCSC’s Knowledge and Information Services at 1-800-616-6164. Trends can also be viewed online.


Check out State Court Organization 2016

State Court Organization 2016 has been released, and lovers of court-related statistics are in for a treat. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

  • Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia limit the maximum age for appellate and trial court judges to between 65 to 90 years old, but most states set the maximum age between 70 and 75.
  • Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia limit the number of years that a trial court judge can serve the court as a presiding judge—from six months in South Carolina to 12 years in Delaware.
  • Nineteen states allow juries to submit questions in criminal trials, and 23 states allow it in civil trials.
  • Twenty-five states have judicial branch Facebook pages; 27 have judicial branch Twitter feeds.


Aussie researcher watches judges—very, very closely

The National Center for State Courts recently welcomed Sharyn Roach Anleu, a professor at Flinders University in Australia who collaborates with NCSC researchers David Rottman and Jennifer Elek. Dr. Anleu spoke with @ The Center about her impressions of the United States, as well as her work on the effects of stress and emotions on judicial performance.


Register now for the Trial Court Leadership Conference

The National Association for Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO) will hold its 2017 Annual Leadership Conference September 24-27, 2017, in Scottsdale, Arizona at the DoubleTree Resort and Conference Center. Trial court judge-leaders and court executives from all jurisdictions are encouraged to attend as teams. Monday’s Leadership Academy targets skills and techniques successful leaders use to institute major change in “loosely coupled” organizations such as courts, hospitals, and universities. The National Center for State Courts and the Center for Applied Research (CFAR), a leadership consultancy affiliated with the Wharton School of Management at the University of Pennsylvania, are partnering to present the curriculum. Tuesday and Wednesday will include a variety of workshops on cutting-edge topics, such as:

  • opioid epidemic and the courts
  • digital media problems and opportunities
  • court-annexed self-help centers
  • electronic judicial dashboards
  • problem-solving court operations
  • online dispute resolution
  • artificial intelligence and the courts
  • tools to implement civil justice reforms
  • useful technology to improve court access
  • new approaches to fines, fees, and bail setting

For more information, and to register, please go to http://napco4courtleaders.org. NAPCO is a nonprofit national education and research organization of trial court chief, presiding, and administrative judges and court executive officers. It works closely with the National Center for State Courts, Conference of Chief Justices, Conference of State Court Administrators, and other court improvement organizations.


 10 questions with Laura Klaversma

At NCSC, we’re proud of the research we do, the advice we give, and the education we provide to our colleagues in the courts. And we’re proud of the people who do that work.

If you know Laura Klaversma, you know she loves her grandchildren. It’s hard to believe there was a time when she didn’t want to be a grandmother. “I just looked at it as another responsibility that I didn’t necessarily want,” she said, “but there’s nothing more satisfying.” Read the full interview to find out what she would grab from her house if it were on fire at www.ncsc.org/10questions.


New Justice for All webinar scheduled for July

NCSC announces the first webinar on the Justice for All inventory assessment process on July 31 at 4:00 PM EDT. The webinar, and new technical assistance, are made possible by The Kresge Foundation and Public Welfare Foundation’s generous support of the Justice for All project. Additional information on the technical assistance and webinar registration can be found on the Justice for All website and in this announcement.


NCSC reading room


How can the online dispute resolution (ODR) model support equalized access to consumer redress in the Internet age? The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection provides a context and blueprint for a next-generation, consumer-focused redress process that will benefit both consumers and merchants. Amy Schmitz and Colin Rule discuss challenges facing consumers in e-commerce, as well as current strategies for addressing these challenges, and then propose a new design for a consumer-focused, global online redress system. A must read for ODR systems designers, online merchants, payment providers, marketplaces, lawyers, judges, students, consumer advocates, and policymakers. This book is available from the NCSC Library.

This month's Trends article discusses the National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices. This task force works to promote the fair, efficient enforcement of the law; ensure no citizen is denied access to justice based on race or lack of economic resources; and promote fairness and transparency in handling legal financial obligations.

Donate to NCSC
LinkedIn Twitter Facebook Vimeo Flickr