@ the Center: Fines & fees + civics education + judicial salaries


@TheCenter from NCSC


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Fines & Fees

National Task Force releases Principles on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices

In 2016 the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators formed a National Task Force on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices to develop recommendations and tools to promote the fair and efficient enforcement of the law; to ensure no person is denied access to the justice system based on lack of economic resources; and to develop policies relating to legal financial obligations that promote access, fairness, and transparency. In February 2018 the task force released Principles on Fines, Fees and Bail Practices. Developed with input from a variety of stakeholders and approved by CCJ and COSCA, the principles can be used to develop fairer and more transparent and efficient methods of judicial practice regarding bail practices and the imposition and collection of legal financial obligations.


Learn how courts can help strengthen families

Plan to tune in February 28 to the Court Improvement Program (CIP) Talks event, which will feature 10 nationally recognized child welfare experts discussing the roles that courts and attorneys play in keeping families healthy, strong, and together. The event’s theme is How Judges and Attorneys Help Strengthen Families, and is being conducted from 12:00–5:00 pm EST in front of a live audience, livecast for virtual viewers, and recorded. The Ted-style talks are intended to prompt viewers to think about the work in new or different ways; expose viewers to promising, proven, or innovative approaches; and provide useful practice tips and knowledge. The series is being hosted by the Children’s Bureau, the National Child Welfare Capacity Building Center for Courts, and NCSC.


Recognizing innovation in civics education

Sandra Day O'Connor Award

Nominations are now being accepted for the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education. NCSC established this award to honor an organization, court, or individual who has significantly advanced civics education about the courts. Nominations may be submitted by members of the Conference of Chief Justices, the Conference of State Court Administrators, or members of the NCSC Board of Directors. You may solicit nominations from others in the court community, but each nomination must be submitted with the approval of a member of CCJ, COSCA, or the NCSC Board. To make a nomination, please include a letter detailing the person’s or organization’s civics education accomplishments, a description of the civics program, and at least two letters of reference. All nominations are due to the NCSC by March 16, 2018. The following criteria can be helpful when considering a candidate for nomination:

  • Leadership and commitment—the number of years devoted to civics education, whether the efforts have been personal (e.g., going into the field, the classrooms, etc.) or strong advocacy work (e.g., making speeches and creating training resources)
  • Programmatic details—what has been the impact and scope of the nominee’s efforts, what is the nature/variety/duration of the programmatic efforts, and have any of the programmatic activities prompted innovation


Judicial Salary Tracker shows increases in 29 states & D.C.

Survey of Judicial SalariesThe most recent Survey of Judicial Salaries was released in January. The survey shows that trial court judges in 29 states, plus D.C., received salary increases since January 2017. Advocates in Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Carolina are currently using the Survey to help convince state legislatures to increase judicial salaries. The Judicial Salary Tracker website hosts archives, retirement information, and background on how states set their salaries. Any questions or comments can be directed to Knowledge and Information Services Analyst Blake Kavanagh.


Registration open for jury management workshop

JuryPaula Hannaford-Agor, director of the NCSC Center for Jury Studies, is conducting a “Jury Management Workshop,” March 14-16, 2018, at the Ceremonial Courtroom in the Civil Courts Building in St. Louis, Missouri. During the class, participants will learn about best practices to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of jury operations, to ensure the integrity of the jury selection process, and to treat jurors with dignity and respect. To register, email Alisa Kim or call (303) 308-4340.


 10 questions with Margaret Allen

Margaret Allen

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.

Margaret Allen works as director of National Programs at the National Center’s Institute for Court Management (ICM). Like a lot of people at NCSC, Margaret’s journey here is the result of what she calls “a long and winding road.” After she graduated from college, she worked at Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and then as a corporate concierge for Fidelity Investments in Boston. Which led to a decision to return to Columbus, her hometown. Which led to a temporary job at the Ohio Supreme Court. Which led to a full-time job there under John Meeks, who is now NCSC vice president of ICM. 


NCSC reading room


The impact of court-imposed fines and fees on the lives of the impoverished is the subject of A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Punishment for the Poor. Alexes Harris, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Washington, analyzes the rise of monetary sanctions in the criminal justice system to examine how they affect the lives of the poorest Americans. This book is part of the Russell Sage Foundation’s Rose Series in Sociology and is available from NCSC’s Library.

How can states better support judicial professional development? This month’s Trends in State Courts article explores this question and discusses the Elements of Judicial Excellence Framework.

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