NCSC in the news

Opinion/Commentary: Conservatorships like Britney's can lead to abuse

The National Center for State Courts estimated in 2016 that 1.3 million adults in the U.S. are subject to some kind of conservatorship —– representing about $50 billion in assets — but a previous report suggested the number of cases could be more than double that.


Britney Spears case puts renewed focus on guardianships and less restrictive alternatives

Guardianship is a legal relationship between a competent adult (the "guardian") and a person who because of incapacity is no longer able to take care of his or her own affairs (the "ward"). The guardian can be authorized to make legal, financial, and health care decisions for the ward. The National Center for State Courts says that about 1.3 million adults are living under guardianships or conservatorships with some $50 billion in assets.


Innovation Initiative's Family Law Task Force submits recommendations to Supreme Court

The task force’s final report, submitted to the Innovation Initiative in March, includes research from the National Center for State Courts, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators.


"Justice Delayed is Justice Denied": Historically high criminal case backlog in Harris County

For instance, according to the National Center for State Courts’ Model Time Standards, 98% of cases in County Criminal Courts should be disposed of within 180 days of filing or arrest, and 98% of cases in District Criminal Courts should be disposed of within 365 days of filing or arrest.


Why conservatorships like the one controlling Britney Spears can lead to abuse

The National Center for State Courts estimated in 2016 that 1.3 million adults in the U.S. are subject to some kind of conservatorship – representing about $50 billion in assets – but a previous report suggested the number of cases could be more than double that.


Mohave County Supervisors to receive budget report from MSCO

The board will consider accepting $10,000 from the National Center for State Courts to support a pilot project for remote jury selection. The project would look at the impact access to internet-enabled devices has on the jury process.


Senators eye greater scrutiny of guardianships

The senators cite data in their letter from the National Center for State Courts indicating that about 1.3 million adults are living under guardianships or conservatorships with some $50 billion in assets. But, they say that the estimates are unreliable since guardianship is handled at the state level and practices vary such that “in many states, it is impossible to identify the number of active guardianship cases.”


ODR to present "Mediation and Mental Health: Promoting the Well-Being of Disputants" webinars

The ODR is preparing to air a series of three national webinars entitled “Mediation and Mental Health: Promoting the Well-Being of Disputants.” The series is being funded by the State Justice Institute with collaboration and assistance from the National Center for State Courts.


'More art' than science: Incapacity findings prone to abuse

An estimated 1.3 million adults and about $50 billion in assets are under the control of guardians, according to the National Center for State Courts. And while exact national statistics on guardianship and abuse are hard to come by, older adults are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation, according to data from the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System, a federal abuse tracker.


Mark Ballard: Whopping 30% collection fees? A task force looks at Louisiana's court system

In Florida, the counties were so unevenly funded in the 1990s that a judge collected leftover pens to give to trial courts in “have not” counties, according to a National Center for State Courts draft report commissioned by a Louisiana task force.


Reprimand of judges for social media misconduct warrants updated guidelines, experts say

The Center for Judicial Ethics at the National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the judiciary, has examined cases in which judges were rebuked for expressing views on controversial topics or endorsing political candidates. Some of the judges used private accounts, while others did not attempt to hide their judicial affiliations.


Criminal justice reforms in Virginia prompt debate over how prosecutors are funded by the state

The 15-month study, to be conducted by the National Center for State Courts, will become the foundation for any changes made to the funding formula — either by the state Compensation Board or the General Assembly, in the form of new legislation.


Fact-check: Jury's in on Lightfoot claim that Cook County criminal courts are 'shut down' - because, well, juries are in

What’s more, jury trials make up a small fraction of a court’s work. A recent study by the National Center for State Courts found 92% of the felony cases it reviewed were resolved through guilty pleas or dismissals. In Cook County, only 10% of all cases that did go to trial in 2019 went to a jury rather than a bench trial, according to an April press release from Evans.


Exclusive: Elizabeth Warren, Bob Casey ask for data on conservatorships after Britney Spears's testimony

The National Center for State Courts estimates there are 1.3 million adults under guardianship in the U.S. and that their guardians control about $50 billion in assets. But Warren and Casey’s letter notes that this data is incomplete, which makes it difficult for the government to track disparities in guardianship, determine whether the rates of guardianship are increasing, address abuses in the system or make policy recommendations.


Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill creating partisan races for state's top court

Ohio was the only state where judicial candidates run in partisan primaries and nonpartisan general elections. Now it will be one of seven states that elect judges for its higher courts in partisan elections, according to the National Center for State Courts.


Britney Spears's case leads 2 senators to question the country's conservatorship systems.

The National Center for State Courts estimates that there are 1.3 million active conservatorships in the United States overseeing at least $50 billion in assets, but the group notes that the estimate is based on a “handful” of states that provide reasonably reliable data on conservatorships. Each state manages its own system of conservatorship, and data collection varies widely from state to state.


Britney Spears' testimony spurs lawmakers to question federal guardianship data

In their correspondence, the senators point to National Center for State Courts estimates that 1.3 million adults currently live under this legal mechanism—and their guardians control around $50 billion in assets. But those estimates don’t paint the whole picture, they said, as many states don’t have centralized systems to gather this data. The senators provided examples of challenges that accompany this information collection.


Judicial Compensation Commission to review 3.5% salary increase for judges

The Office of the Courts states that in previous reports the commission determined that increased salaries are needed to help recruit and retain judges in New Mexico. The Office cites an annual survey by the National Center for State Courts that reports New Mexico judges are among the lowest paid in the nation.


CDC extends eviction moratorium a month

She references steps made by state courts in Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania and directs state courts to an online assessment tool designed by the National Center for State Courts to help jurisdictions determine the most appropriate model.


Will Britney Spears' dramatic testimony affect other cases, laws on conservatorship?

A 2013 AARP report put the “best guess” estimate of people in conservatorships nationally at 1.5 million. A 2011 study by the National Center for State Courts estimated the number nationally could range from less than 1 million to as high as 3 million.


FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris administration announces initiatives to promote housing stability by supporting vulnerable tenants and preventing foreclosures

The Justice Department letter points to actions that courts can implement immediately to help confront this problem. The letter also directs courts to federal resources they can use to support diversion programs and to tools developed by the National Center for State Courts that can help judges ensure landlords and tenants have an opportunity to tap into available resources and mediate their dispute.


Iowa Supreme Court boots FY22 budget 4.7%; courts to add four judges, 17 clerks

According to workload formulas developed by the National Center for State Courts, Iowa needs 10 additional district judge positions and 20 additional district associate judge positions to manage the current judicial branch workload


Biden extends nationwide ban on evictions for another month, but says it's last time

She references steps made by state courts in Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania and directs state courts to an online assessment tool designed by the National Center for State Courts to help jurisdictions determine the most appropriate model.


Iowa Supreme Court approves FY 2022 budget

According to the workload formulas developed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), Iowans need 10 additional district judge positions and 20 additional district associate judge positions to manage the current judicial branch workload. Two district associate judges will be appointed in October 2021, one for the central and one for the eastern sections of the state, and two more in January 2022, one for the southwestern and one for the eastern portions of the state.


User feedback is key to running virtual diversion programs

In collaboration with the National Center for State Courts and Wayne State University, my firm recently conducted a large-scale, national examination of virtual practices. We initiated the study in fall 2020, six months after virtual services became common practice in judicially led diversion programs around the U.S.


County moves closer to buying mall space

The commissioners should be enlisting the National Center for State Courts “to come and see the space, make recommendations,” she said. “Based on the uniqueness of this (mall) location for a court, I think we need to have some security experts involved.


Hennepin County defense attorneys push for more diverse jury pools

"All jurisdictions across the country are much more attuned since last year about systemic racism and justice inequality," said Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va.


23 complete court manager program

The graduation ceremony closed the 2-year Court Management Program for the class of 2021. The program, available through the Institute for Court Management of the National Center for State Courts and the North Dakota Supreme Court, includes six modules that address topics pertaining to the management of courts as organizations.  Upon completion, participants receive the designation of certified court manager.


The International Symposium on "Excellence in High Courts of Appeal" held

The international symposium on “Excellence in High Courts of Appeal” was held online on 4 June 2021 with a view to exchanging international knowledge and experience and elaborating on excellence in high courts of appeal. The event brought together views from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) of the United States of America, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), the International Consortium for Court Excellence and the National High Court of Spain with an aim at enriching knowledge among Turkish judicial professionals and the Turkish Court of Cassation.


Jury trials are restarting in Lehigh County, and there's a greater chance you'll be called. Here's what you need to know

According to the National Center for State Courts, restricting jury pools to persons who are fully vaccinated may make it more difficult to secure enough prospective jurors. Along with COVID’s higher impact on people of color, public health experts have noted ongoing challenges in getting the vaccine out to certain communities.


High fees could hurt public access as Maine court records go digital

Jim McMillan is the principal court management consultant at the National Center for State Courts, a Virginia nonprofit that provides support to courts across the country. He did not speak directly to the contract in Maine but said fees are often necessary to cover operating costs, especially if lawmakers like those in Maine have not dedicated enough money for a project.


'It is inadequate': Delaware launches new effort to diversify judges and lawyers

The project will get help from the National Center for State Courts, a group that helps local courts with strategic planning, diversity and community engagement, and justice system reform. The state will also team up with the AccessLex Institute, a West Chester-based nonprofit linking more than 200 law schools around the country.


Del. Courts unveil diversity initiative

Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins Seitz Junior Monday announced the Delaware Bench and Bar Diversity Project. A steering committee of judicial officers, individuals and organizations will lead efforts to build and sustain a more diverse bench and bar. The project was launched in collaboration with the National Center for State Courts and Access Lex Institute.


Ballrooms become courtrooms to get jury trials moving

Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts, said stadiums have been used in the past for complex cases with hundreds of lawyers, witnesses and other participants.


Bench and Bar Diversity Project announced

This project, launched in collaboration with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and AccessLex Institute, will be led by a steering committee composed of judicial officers, individuals, and organizations working to build and sustain a more diverse Delaware bench and bar.


A promising path to increase access to justice

Just a few weeks later, and prior to the completion of a National Center for State Courts evaluation of the program, the court voted to stop licensing new technicians.


Eugene Community Court gives offenders opportunity to learn, improve while reducing offenses

In April, a nationwide study by the National Center for State Courts found that graduates of Eugene Community Court were less likely to be arrested or convicted of crimes than those who did not participate in the program.


Who pays if Kansas doesn’t fund its court system adequately? You, eventually

Like any employer, the state of Kansas must provide competitive and comparable wages to retain and recruit all its employees. Judicial employee pay has stagnated. According to a July 2020 National Center for State Courts survey, salaries for our district court judges ranks 48th out of all 50 states, and are not comparable to any of our neighboring states.


Court backlog leaves hundreds of people in Cook County Jail for more than a year

According to the nonprofit National Center for State Courts, a nonpartisan research organization focused on court efficiency, 90% of felony cases should be resolved within six months.


Court closures because of COVID-19 lead to backlog of jury trials in Livingston County

Michigan had a 99% resolution rate for cases in 2019, according to data from the National Center for State Courts. Data indicates 2020's rate is nowhere close to that at less than 40%.


Ohio Supreme Court’s Civic Education Program named 2021 Sandra Day O’Connor Award recipient

The Civic Education Program of the Ohio Supreme Court is the recipient of the 2021 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education, presented annually by the National Center for State Courts.


Three Village 5th-grader places In national essay contest

Holden Cone, a fifth-grader at Minnesauke Elementary School, was named the third-place winner in the elementary school category for the National Center for State Courts' 2021 Civics Education Essay Contest, the Three Village Central School District announced.


Pandemic redefines 'public' access to government meetings

“If tomorrow COVID were cured, would we still continue with virtual hearings? Well, probably, yeah,” said Bill Raftery, a senior analyst at the National Center for State Courts.


Expansive NY bill to expunge criminal records gains steam

In New York and in the rest of the country, over 95% of convictions are by guilty pleas, according to data compiled by the federal judiciary and a database maintained by the National Center for State Courts.


Federal pass-through funding for courts supports innovations and equity

Courts can get started with three resources: the Grants Matrix, the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Tiny Chats, and resources from the State Justice Institute (SJI). Thanks to The Pew Charitable Trusts, my project created a Grants Matrix on the NCSC Tiny Chats website.


Public webinars: Public access services available for court users

The Judicial Council and National Center for State Courts will host a series of free public webinars this spring to provide an overview of language access services and multilingual materials available for limited English proficient court users.


House committee reduces price tag of intermediate appeals court bill

“As in the past, we oppose the creation of an intermediate court of appeals as an unnecessary expense for our state both in terms of its effect on litigants and its effect on the expenditures of our state’s finances,” Majestro said. “The National Center for State Courts has affirmed that the automatic right of appeal exists in West Virginia, so when you hear from others who say we don’t have a right to appeal in West Virginia, they are simply wrong and not telling the truth.”


Covering criminal courts amid COVID-19: 6 tips for journalists

As more U.S. courts introduce such changes — and some courts expand these initiatives — journalists need to understand how they will influence legal processes and affect criminal defendants’ civil rights. We asked experts at the National Center for State Courts, an independent research organization focused on the state judiciary, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, an organization aimed at correcting flaws and inequities in the criminal justice system, what journalists should know and do when covering these issues.


Tunisia: Five procedures manuals published to facilitate access to courts

The manuals are published in collaboration with the National Center for State Courts (NSCS) and the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), with funding from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the source added.


Collaborative begins study of 'best practices' in rural justice reform

“We’re going to find the best of the best and develop a framework so other courts and communities can model them,” said Kristina Bryant, the National Center for State Courts RJC project director.


Arizona Supreme Court task force refocuses on disinformation

The National Center for State Courts laid the groundwork for that kind of playbook to help state courts develop rapid response plans before “any attack landed on the front steps of the courthouse,” the center’s spokesman Jesse Rutledge said.


Iowa Capitol Digest for Thursday, February 25

The National Center for State Courts has renamed the Family Justice Reform Initiative in honor of the late Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady, who died in November 2019, two months after he delivered the keynote address at the National Judicial Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children.


'I want this over': For Victims and the accused, justice is delayed as COVID-19 snarls courts

Today, even in jurisdictions where in-person proceedings have resumed, limits on how many people can be in a courtroom at the same time for things like jury selection continue to slow the system. “We’re in sort of this holding period,” says Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).


As some jury trials resume, juror shortages create problems; one court sees a 5% yield on summonses

Top state courts in Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina and Massachusetts have lifted suspension on jury trials, according to information from the National Center for State Courts cited by Bloomberg Law. Other states, including California and Florida, allow local courts to decide whether to have trials.


Justice delayed: Alabama's court system bogged down with COVID jury trial backlog

According to the National Center for State Courts, restricting or ending jury trials is among five of the most common efforts to combat coronavirus and keep the wheels of justice churning. Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hayes Webb said his office closed their February docket because 12 employees were in quarantine. Webb said court last took place in December.


US Embassy and Judiciary partner on new case management system for local Courts

The project is also receiving support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. It will be implemented by the National Center for State Courts.


Iowa court system seeks $9 million to address delays

According to the workload formula developed by the National Center for State Courts, 17 additional clerks are needed statewide at an additional cost of $1 million to process the current overall workload.


Pandemic slows justice in Idaho and around the Mountain West

Depending on the state, certain kinds of trials are still required to happen in person, like jury trials. According to the National Center for State Courts, Idaho jury trials were delayed 297 days between last March and this January. Similarly, New Mexico faced delays for 290 days.


Missouri Chief Justice George W. Draper III delivers 2021 State of the Judiciary

With respect to our criminal justice system, we held an initial leadership summit in late February 2020. We had planned to present a series of “Leading Change in Criminal Justice” follow-up meetings with assistance from the Missouri Justice Reinvestment Initiative, the National Center for State Courts, and the State Judicial Institute.


Texas courts hit 1 million Zoom hearings milestone

Those months of testimony were piped in from witnesses' kitchens and living rooms with attorneys double-checking their mute status as part of official efforts to run a court system while keeping people safe during a pandemic.Texas is the national leader in remote hearings, said Jesse Rutledge, a spokesperson with the National Center for State Courts.


Global litigation funding investment market to cross USD 13 Billion in 2021

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), a government body that focuses on improving the judicial administration in the United States, took initiatives to combat the coronavirus disease where the state courts granted extensions for court deadlines and further suspended in-person proceedings. Moreover, third party funding during the pandemic is providing more appealing benefits to litigants, thereby creating attractive opportunities for the litigation financing companies.


Pandemic has had a significant impact on Kansas courts

According to a July 2020 judicial salary survey conducted by the National Center for State Courts, Kansas district judge pay ranks 48 out of 50 states in both actual pay and when adjusted for cost of living.


Courts attempt to balance innovation with access in remote proceedings

Last year, a majority of states allowed virtual hearings. New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico and Alaska mandated their use. Others, including New York, California and Texas, have urged their use while suspending conflicting rules, according to the National Center for State Courts.


Quality metrics for regulatory reform

Our goal is to offer states jurisdiction-agnostic metrics that help regulators and innovators understand and compare impacts along the same set of standards—comparing apples to apples. We are still in the process of exploring which metrics can and should be used, but our process involves learning, revising, iterating, and reviewing with the help of experts already doing this work—groups like the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, the National Center for State Courts, and other industry leaders.


Pilot program will bring Online Dispute Resolution option to Manhattan Small Claims litigants, NY court leaders say

The pilot is funded by the State Justice Institute and the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation. In a statement, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks said he was grateful for both organizations’ assistance, along with the “input and collaboration” of the American Bar Association, the National Center for State Courts and the New York State Community Dispute Resolution Centers.


Orgs enter Utah 'sandbox' trying to reshape legal industry

Several studies have shown many Americans get little to no help for their legal problems. A 2015 report from the National Center for State Courts found that at least one party was self-representing themselves in 76% of civil cases in 10 major urban counties.


Iowa courts look to cast a wider net to find potential jurors

The information provided will not include the financial information of the taxpayer and will be limited to the same fields of information provided by other sources. According to information provided by the National Center for State Courts, as of December 2019 data, there were 18 other states using taxpayer information for jury source lists.


South Dakota's new chief justice asks for judge's raises, more court staff in first address

A committee chaired by Justice Janine Kern that polled judges around the state about current security measures recommended the state develop a plan for security. The National Center for State Courts has agreed to help consult to develop that plan, Jensen said. The new UJS hire would come in Fiscal Year 2022 after the security study.


Pa. House panel to vote GOP-backed plan to elect judges by zone

Four states vote for high court judges by district to a first term, according to the National Center for State Courts. The other 18 states where voters elect high court justices hold statewide contests.


Arizona moves ahead with virtual court system overhaul

From a judicial perspective, Dave Byers, director of the administrative office of the Arizona Courts, said, “Our courts are associated with the National Center for State Courts. Within the organization, its joint technology committee conducted a study around two to three years ago that focused on what courts are going to do as the amount of digital evidence continues to increase.”


Virtual courtrooms prove to be both curse and blessing

And Danielle Hirsch, a principal court management consultant with the National Center for State Courts, told Law360 she doesn't think courts have slowed down, saying many court systems in states such as Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Texas may have actually had more hearings during the pandemic.


'Things will get worse,' Fauci warns, as U.S. hits a new daily record

California, Florida and most other states have no statewide public health orders in place barring jury trials, leaving the issue to be determined locally based on local conditions, according to the National Center for State Courts.


Sugar Land court administrators earn statewide honors

A Dec. 30 news release from the city said the Texas Court Clerks Association (TCCA) had selected Municipal Court Administrator Kendra Beverly as the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Service Award. Beverly and Deputy Court Administrator Brittany Wright were also recognized as Certified Court Managers by the National Center for State Courts’ Institute for Court Management (ICM).


Jury trials are being put back on hold because of COVID-19 spikes

But by late summer and early fall, most courts had resumed in-person jury trials on a limited basis, (Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts director Paula Hannaford-Agor said). Many required masks and temperature checks; some installed plexiglass barriers and reconfigured courtrooms and jury assembly rooms to allow for social distancing.


Chief Justice Roberts praises judiciary for post-pandemic performance

Roberts also highlighted state courts, which he described as “responsible for the vast bulk of judicial proceedings across the nation,” for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an example, he said the National Center for State Courts gave its 2020 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence to a judge who conducted the first remote jury trial in May.