NCSC in the news

CodeX Conference: Improving court access is as much about changing minds as changing technology

A panel at Stanford Law School’s 2023 CodeX FutureLaw conference discussed how new attitudes, not just new tech, are needed to improve citizens' access to our nation's court system. Panelist Grace Spulak, Senior Court Management Consultant at the National Center for State Courts, noted there are already initiatives underway to get courts more motivated to make these changes. She noted that at their core, courts are not averse to technology. “Courts want to administer justice, and they want to work more efficiently and effectively,” she said, adding that it’s a matter of convincing courts that their actions will actually positively affect this change.

Reimagining Virtual Court to Improve User Experience: Exploring the User-Experience of Remote Court Proceedings: Innovations and Opportunities (Podcast)

Guest Danielle Hirsch, a managing director of court consulting services at the National Center for State Courts discusses the user experience during remote court proceedings and explores additional possibilities for technological innovation in the courts on the latest episode of LSC’s “Talk Justice” podcast. Talk Justice Co-host Molly McDonough is also joined by guests Jennifer Leitch, executive director of the National Self-Represented Litigants Network in Canada.

Asset recovery necessary in Guyana’s growing economy

A recent conference aimed at advancing capacity within the judiciary of Guyana to further promote timely and reasoned adjudication on asset recovery was made possible by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). NCSC partnered with the Judicial Education Institute of Guyana, in recognition of the increased collaboration between the Government of Guyana and the Government of the United States of America on security, rule of law, and countering organized crime. Attendees consisted of Judges, Magistrates, Commissioners of Titles, State Prosecutors, and Registrars, the Hon. Chief Justice of Belize, the Justice of Appeal from the Supreme Court of Jamaica, High Court Judges from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago, among others.

Missed a court appearance? How leaders are making sure it doesn’t happen to you again

Helping courts understand the reason why people might miss court in the first place is the basis of a project spearheaded by the National Center for State Courts in Richmond County, Ga. The new approach features an electronic reminder system that gives individuals the chance to receive their appearance notice information more efficiently.  “The goal here is really to reduce missed appearances which should ideally help facilitate court processes and result in cost savings for courts, attorneys, law enforcement and individuals,” NCSC Senior Court Management Consultant Michael Tartaglia said.

National Center for State Courts names new director

The Center for Judicial Ethics at the National Center for State Courts has named David Sachar as its new director. Sachar, who currently serves as the executive director of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission, is a White County native and graduate of Harding University in addition to the William H. Bowen School of Law. He has been with the judicial discipline and disability commission since 2007 and has been the executive director since January 2013.

Montgomery Court will pilot mental health program

The Montgomery County Circuit Court has been selected by the National Center for State Courts as one of five courts around the U.S. to pilot a program to improve pre-adjudication diversion for individuals with mental health and behavioral health needs. Other courts selected for the pilot program are located in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The project will test recommendations from the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts Response to Mental Illness.

Remote Proceedings Can Improve Justice In Rural Areas

Courts should embrace remote proceedings to improve access to justice in rural communities because participants don't have to drive hours to a courthouse, take time off work or arrange child care, according to a virtual panel hosted by the National Center for State Courts. The panel discussed a number of issues around access to justice for rural communities, including lack of attorneys and distance from courthouses, and how remote court proceedings can solve those issues.

State court center launches courthouse space tool

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) has developed an online questionnaire to help reexamine building space and provide guidance on courthouse space planning, alongside a contest to help promote the best redesign of space. Consultants Nathan Hall and David Sayles discuss how these projects assist courts in identifying future space and service delivery needs.

The first step to courtroom technology adoption is a good plan

Courts across the nation are striving to catch up on modernization and new technology, but first, they may need a strategic plan to do so. Experts at the National Center for State Courts say based on their conversations, the answer lies not with a universal piece of technology, but rather with refining courtroom technology processes and adopting technology that fits a court’s specific needs. NCSC consultants Zach Zarnow and Lindsay Hafford share their views on court technology and planning around courtroom processes.

Building human rights into every Cisco product, policy, and process

Cisco’s Chief Legal Officer and Chair of Cisco’s Human Rights Advisory Committee, Dev Stahlkopf, discusses the work she and her team are doing to help Cisco create and deliver innovative technologies to build a better future. She mentions the company’s focus on increasing access to justice and involvement with the hybrid courts pilot with the National Center for State Courts that will enable courts to provide their communities with flexibility in how they access the legal system. Litigants will be able to appear in person or virtually, depending on their needs.

Justice hacked: When cybercriminals come for the courts

Cyber incidents have hit state courts in Alaska, Georgia and Texas in recent years. Court leaders and CIOs at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) eCourts conference in Las Vegas this week shared what went wrong and the lessons they learned about recovery and prevention. Speakers also shared a variety of measures that can help reduce the chances and severity of attacks and pointed to NCSC resources, including its Joint Technology Committee’s regularly scheduled cyber webinars.

U.S. gives P15-M judicial reform support

The Philippines’ Supreme Court received nearly P15 million from the government of the United States to support its ongoing judicial reform efforts. The U.S. State Department’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs awarded the grant to the National Center for State Courts to facilitate the implementation of the Manila Justice Sector Reform Program in support of the Supreme Court’s 2022-2027 Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations.

Judges must divert more cases to mental health treatment, task force says

The National Center for State Courts, creator of The National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness, said in a report released on Tuesday that judges are in a unique position to steer individuals to pre-established resources that may help them with their mental health issues. The task force was created in March 2020 and is made up of a group of judges, lawyers and community members, including co-chairs Chief Justice Paul Reiber of Vermont and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks of New York. Over the course of the two years, the task force published almost 100 resources to aid in the implementation of its recommendations.

Judge honored with national jury innovation award

District Court Judge Thomas Kelly Ryan of Johnson County, Kansas, was awarded the 2022 G. Thomas Munsterman Award for Jury Innovation presented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Oct. 20. Named for the founder and former director of NCSC’s Center for Jury Studies, G. Thomas Munsterman, the award recognizes states, local courts, organizations and individuals that have made significant improvements or innovations in jury procedures, operations and practices. Judge Ryan was honored for his efforts to engage with the public to develop a jury process that would address public health concerns while also protecting constitutional rights and resolving pending cases.

Plea bargaining training for prosecutors

The effective use of plea agreements to ensure justice is administered through a fair, transparent and efficient process, while balancing victims’ rights and the public's interest, was the focus of a week-long training session for prosecutors held at Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago beginning Oct. 18. The session was funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Caribbean Anti-Crime Program and implemented by the National Center for State Courts. The training was aimed at increasing the usage of plea agreements to resolve cases, which will reduce backlogs, promote timely disposition of cases, and improve the overall administration of justice in Trinidad and Tobago.

Las Vegas court receives $1.25 million grant to improve housing stability

The Las Vegas Justice Court has received a $1.25 million grant to improve housing stability through eviction diversion efforts. The funding will go toward establishing an eviction diversion program that will use CARE teams, community partnerships and collaborations to help those at risk of eviction or housing instability. The grant comes from the National Center for State Courts' Eviction Diversion Initiative, via funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Courts and Confidence: What Do We Know About How the Public Perceives the Courts?

This podcast revisits a 2021 National Center for State Courts State of the State Courts survey that found public trust in the courts, along with other institutions, has declined. 64% of survey respondents said they had either a great deal of confidence or some confidence in their state courts.