New year = new research projects



New year = new research projects

Our researchers have rung in the New Year by announcing the first batch of what they hope will be many research grant awards in 2020.

“We’re excited to kick off 2020 with several new projects that will allow us assist the courts with core functions as well as tackle new challenges,” said Research Director Nicole Waters. “We look forward to beginning this work and anticipate many other projects this year.”

Here’s a summary of the new projects:

  • There is a lot of desire to find ways to help people who can’t afford lawyers. Washington state’s Limited License Legal Technician Program, which uses specially trained paralegals to help litigants fill out paperwork and answer questions about legal procedures, is being watched closely nationwide. NCSC, led by researcher Paula Hannaford-Agor, will evaluate the program and whether it addresses the gap in access to justice. The project, funded by the State Justice Institute, goes until April 2021.
  • NCSC continues to help state courts as they strive to operate more efficiently, and we will work with North Dakota in three workload assessments of its district courts. The studies will evaluate the staffing models and resource needs for judges and law clerks, for clerk of court staff, and for juvenile court officers and clerical staff. The first of these three studies are scheduled to start in February, with the third one ending in March 2021. The project, funded by North Dakota, is led by researcher Brian Ostrom.
  • Today’s news is filled with headlines about juror misconduct, and Hannaford-Agor, who doubles as director of NCSC’s Center for Jury Studies, is leading a project to identify techniques for addressing juror misconduct. NCSC will partner with three other organizations on the project, which is also expected to enhance the NCSC curriculum, Preventing and Addressing Internet-related Juror Misconduct.  The work, partially funded by SJI, will end in December.

Collegiality impacts performance for appellate court judges

Working collaboratively is essential for appellate court judges. But for collaboration to be effective, it must be done in a collegial atmosphere, according to a recently released white paper produced by the Council of Chief Judges of the State Courts of Appeal (CCJSCA) and is available in the NCSC Library. Enhancing Communications, Collaboration and Collegiality in State Intermediate Appellate Courts was produced to:

  • Provide intermediate appellate court leaders with a framework for recognizing problems that affect collegiality, specifically related to the increased use of communication technologies;
  • Identify resources or strategies to enhance appellate communications and collegiality; and
  • Produce a compendium describing best practices pertaining to appellate court communication, collaboration, and collegiality.