NCSC in the news

Will a Significant Pay Raise Make Texas Jurors Show Up?

Gov. Greg Abbot signed a law that will increase the minimum payment for the first day of jury duty from $6 to $20.  But 75 percent of people in Dallas County who receive a jury summons throw it away, ignore it or otherwise skip showing up. A 2022 study by the National Center for State Courts found that the average juror pay for the first day of service nationwide was $16.61.

Courts Consider the Coming Risk of Deepfake Evidence

Catching convincing AI-fabricated evidence is still a work in progress, but courts could benefit from thinking now about how they might confront the challenges posed by the emerging technology. National Center for State Courts Principal Court Management Consultant Jannet Okazaki and Data Scientist Andre Assumpcao emphasized the need for courts to adapt to this new threat during the recent Court Technology Conference in Phoenix.

Douglas County District Court selected for eviction diversion initiative

The Douglas County District Court has received a National Center for State Courts Eviction Diversion Initiative grant to implement new strategies and alternatives to the traditional eviction track. The county was selected through a competitive application process, along with courts from Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.

Threats, slurs and menace: Far-right websites target Fulton County grand jurors

Before many people had a chance to fully read through the Fulton County, Ga., indictment against former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants, malicious online actors had already done their work. On a far-right website, where the QAnon conspiracy theory originated, an anonymous user shared a list of the 23 grand jurors with their supposed full names, ages and addresses. In the past, courts have relied primarily on two techniques to protect jurors in high-profile cases, said Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts.

Lawrence eviction rates drop markedly a year into pilot program

A little more than a year after Lawrence Township’s small claims court received a $500,000 grant from the National Center for State Courts to launch a pilot program to reduce evictions, court records show out of nearly 1,100 eviction filings between Jan. 1 and May 31 of this year, 979 were dismissed, nearly 90 percent. Samira Nazem, an NCSC principal court management consultant, said while the organization doesn’t yet have hard data it can share, anecdotal evidence from other courts participating in the pilot program suggests similar results elsewhere.

How States Set Judicial Salaries

William Raftery, National Center for State Courts senior knowledge and information services analyst, discusses the past, present and future of judicial compensation. Data collected by NCSC's Judicial Salary Survey reveals that while state legislatures (with the exception of Arkansas) maintain overall control over judicial salaries, the mechanisms used to set those salaries varies widely.

Report: Maine trial courts need dozens of more judges and clerks to keep pace with current workload

A recent study commissioned by the Maine Judicial Branch finds that the state's trial courts need at least nine more judges and 53 additional clerks to keep up with their existing caseload. Those resources are on top of whatever overtime or other staff may be needed to tackle a daunting case backlog created during the pandemic, according to the report from the National Center for State Courts.

Detroit housing court  reopens with big changes and fears of more evictions

Detroit's housing court has resumed in-person hearings for the first time since Covid forced them online. The move has housing advocates fearing that evictions will spike for tenants who can't take time off work or find child care. Samira Nazem, who leads an eviction diversion initiative for the National Center for State Courts, discusses changes in housing courts that reach beyond online hearings. "Covid really kind of crystallized for many courts the important role they can play in connecting people to services and resources and that that's not an inappropriate role for courts to play."

Pronoun Selection for Lawyers, Litigants Divides Michigan Courts

A Michigan Supreme Court proposal that would require use of lawyers' and parties' preferred pronouns is dividing judges, with sides weighing competing interests in civility and judicial discretion to manage courtrooms.  This diversity of opinion is a microcosm of a broader nationwide discussion where states are generally moving to have more inclusive rules, said Andy Wirkus, a consultant for the National Center for State Courts. "What the issue really comes down to is a matter of accuracy and dignity and respect, and so all Americans feel they can trust the judicial system."

Have jury duty? You'll soon be seeing a bigger paycheck

Oklahoma lawmakers have approved an increase to $50 a day, which would tie North Dakota for the highest in the nation, according to a 2022 study from the National Center for State Courts. Increasing the daily pay to jurors, some believe, will improve representation on a jury. "Juror compensation is also a key driver of ensuring that inequities do not impact participation," wrote Brendan Clark in the NCSC report. "Particularly for those already struggling with minimum wage positions, ensuring adequate compensation is critical to their effective participation in the enterprise."

Virtual Court Hearings Earn Permanent Spot After Pandemic's End

The virtual court proceedings that reshaped the judiciary during Covid-19will outlive the pandemic, as state courts across the country rewrite their rules to incorporate the lessons learned from the crisis. "I look at this moment as an incredible opportunity to concretize some innovations that happened because of the pandemic and to keep up the momentum," said Danielle Hirsch, managing director of Court Consulting Services with the National Center for State Courts. Hybrid hearings are also discussed with Senior Court Management Consultant Lindsay Hafford.