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The State of State Courts: A 2021 NCSC Public Opinion Survey

sosc2021NCSC’s 2021 survey of public opinion finds that a majority of respondents believe that courts should continue to hold hearings by video because it allows them to hear more cases and resolve cases more quickly, and it makes it easier for people to participate without having to travel to a courthouse, take time off work and find childcare.

This year’s survey also finds that large numbers of respondents indicate that barriers to getting to a physical courthouse exist, including a remarkable 49 percent who indicated that the distance they would need to travel to reach their courthouse would be a problem for them.

Across questions about remote access, the survey consistently finds a major difference of opinion based on age, with younger Americans much more likely to embrace technology solutions.

The annual survey also benchmarks public trust and confidence from year to year. Findings for 2021 indicate that public trust in the courts and other institutions is waning. In this year’s survey, 64 percent of respondents said they had either a great deal of confidence or some confidence in their state courts, down from a high of 76 percent in 2018.

If you want to go beyond the highlights, we invite you to explore these additional resources:

  • The pollster, GBAO Strategies, breaks down the survey into granular detail. Download the analysis.
  • Review the presentation slides in the sliders below. They provide additional details and insights on many of the key questions. Download a set of the slides.
  • Watch our November 10, 2021 webinar featuring GBAO’s Karl Agne and Nisha Jain, NCSC’s Molly Justice and Jesse Rutledge, and Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The poll of 1,000 registered voters was conducted using a mixture of telephone interviews and online surveys. Respondents were contacted conducted between October 12-16, 2021. Findings are considered accurate within +/- 3 percent, 19 times out of 20. The survey was developed by GBAO, with input from an advisory body of judges, court professionals and NCSC staff.