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NCSC's 2021 Annual Report reflects on the past, present and future

NCSC's 2021 Annual Report reflects on the past, present and future

It’s impossible for one document to summarize an entire year’s worth of new ideas, successful projects, and lessons learned—so imagine the challenge in writing an annual report that does all of that, while also looking back at 50 years of achievements! NCSC’s 50: Annual Report 2021, published today and available on the NCSC website, does just that.

Reflections on 2021 reveal the breadth and scope of NCSC’s work throughout the year,  including advancing racial justice, improving guardianships and conservatorships, and addressing the scope of the behavioral health crisis in America.

Of course, there is considerable attention paid to responding to the “new normal” brought by the pandemic. In 2020, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) stood up a “Rapid Response Team” to direct a coordinated response. NCSC’s work in virtually every area has been impacted by the RRT, which has produced over 120 resources for the court community.

“The Rapid Response Team (RRT) has been able to research and deliver immediate solutions to the problems we were facing,” said Judge Jennifer Bailey of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. “The simplicity of the solutions—Tiny Chats, webinars, newsletter articles—has been remarkable.”

50: Annual Report 2021 includes references to both the past and the future. A timeline takes readers back to 1971, highlighting significant developments over NCSC’s 50 years, and Chief Justice Nathan Hecht of Texas discusses how the Center’s “Just Horizons” initiative is helping imagine the courts of tomorrow. Jeff Apperson, NCSC’s vice president for international programs, discusses the development of a new strategic plan for our work overseas that will focus on three major objectives. “We want to be considered not just a program developer but a leader in strengthening the rule of law and justice administration abroad. This strategic plan maps out how we’ll do it,” says Apperson. The plan was a major focus for our international group in 2021.

As NCSC’s President Mary McQueen and Board Chair Chief Justice Paul Suttell note in their opening message to the report, “NCSC would not have advanced on [its] journey without the support of state court leadership, at all levels.”

Read up on everything that NCSC accomplished in 2021—that could be squeezed into one compact report, at least.

Gavel to Gavel database delivers overview of legislative activity

With the 2022 legislative season upon us, NCSC is tracking the latest state-by-state activity related to court trends and notable court issues in its Gavel to Gavel database.

Judicial security is the focus of more than 15 pieces of legislation introduced across 13 states seeking to protect the home addresses of judges and other court officials. Other topics of interest include changes to court structures, changes to selection processes for judges and other elected officials, court security (both physical and cybersecurity), and access to justice.

Since 2006, Gavel to Gavel has provided a reliable, national overview of court legislation. NCSC will continue to offer analysis of legislative activity tracked in Gavel to Gavel in Trending Topics. If your state has a bill to add to the database, please contact Bill Raftery in Knowledge and Information Services.