@ the Center: Public confidence in state courts increased in 2018, survey says

 

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DECEMBER 12, 2018

NCSC’s 2018 State of the State Courts survey

Despite a year that saw attacks on judges specifically and on the judicial system generally, public confidence in state courts increased this year, according to NCSC’s 2018 State of the State Courts survey.

A whopping 76 percent of the survey respondents expressed support in their state courts in 2018 – up from 71 percent in 2017. That increased support resulted in higher marks from the public on a wide variety of attributes, including a 12-percent increase in those saying that courts are a good investment of taxpayer dollars, and a 7-percent increase in those who think of courts as places where people work hard.

Since 2014, NCSC has produced the State of the State Courts public opinion survey, with GBA Strategies conducting 1,000 telephone interviews with registered voters nationwide. This year’s survey, which was conducted between Nov. 13 and 17, was developed by the pollster and by an advisory group consisting of national court leaders. The error rate is +/- 3.1, with a 95-percent confidence level.

Here are a few other key findings:

  • Half of those surveyed say the cash bail system favors wealthy defendants, and nearly three-quarters strongly or somewhat support allowing judges to consider ways other than money to decide whether to release defendants before their trials.
  • More than six of 10 respondents say they view themselves as unprepared to effectively represent themselves in court, yet one of five say they have done so. They generally support alternatives to full legal representation, such as online dispute resolution (ODR), self-help centers and limited license legal technicians, but they don’t overwhelmingly embrace any one of them.
  • The public sees pros and cons to ODR. They think it has a lot of potential to resolve traffic violations and consumer debt and small claims cases, but only a small percentage of them say it is a good option to resolve landlord-tenant disputes and divorce and child custody cases.

“While overall views of state court systems have held strong in this environment [of attacks],” said NCSC’s pollster, GBA Strategies, “this narrative has done little to alleviate well-established concerns of bias, inefficiency, and a two-tiered justice system weighted against ‘regular’ people.”

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eCourts rolls into Las Vegas

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eCourts 2018 is under way in Las Vegas. As the 1,046 attendees walked onto the conference floor, they were welcomed by Cora, the conference robot. Cora, provided by Advanced Robot Solutions, allows guests to view the conference schedule, read court-related publications, watch videos – and our personal favorite – perform a robot dance. Attendees are gaining an education in artificial intelligence, evidence-based practice, blockchain, online dispute resolution, and more. Tuesday's featured speaker, Ben Barton, professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, discussed his book, Rebooting Justice. The book argues that our laws are too complex and legal advice is too expensive. Both are obstacles for the poor and even middle-class Americans to get help and protect their rights. If you missed the conference, you can view videos of the sessions at www.e-courts.org.

 
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