NCSC in the news

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 cyber criminals 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.

Senior Security

Making sure that older Americans are of free from abuse, scams, and poor administration of their finances and health isn’t a new pursuit. But as the nation ages, aid from the legal system becomes more critical. Diane Robinson of the Center for Elders and the Courts at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) discusses alternatives to guardianship.

Bexar County makes another big investment in mental health care

Bexar County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved nearly $35 million in coronavirus pandemic relief grants aimed at mental health care in schools, jail and the county in general. Also approved is a comprehensive, three-year study of domestic violence. About $226,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding will pay for the first year. The total cost is $750,000. The study, which will be carried out by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Courts as well as the National Center for State Courts, will add to the work that the local Collaborative Commission on Domestic Violence has already started, said Judge Monique Diaz, co-chair of the commission.

Illinois Courts Award $315,000 to Pilot Justice and Mental Health Collaborations in Circuits Around the State

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) announced that it has been awarded $315,000 from a Bureau of Justice Assistance Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) Grant to implement and support sub-recipient pilot programs serving court-involved individuals. The JMHCP supports partnerships to improve the court and community response to individuals with mental health and co-occurring mental health substance-use-related needs through a designated cross-system liaison. The National Center for State Courts will be assisting the AOIC and Task Force in providing technical assistance and program evaluations.

Court Administrator Receives Prestigious Burger Award

North Dakota State Court Administrator Sally Holewa has received the 2021 Warren E. Burger Award for Excellence in Court Administration from the National Center for State Courts. Holewa was honored with the award September 29 during a virtual presentation from NCSC President Mary C. McQueen. The honor is awarded to individuals who make significant contributions to the field of court administration through management and administration, education and training, or research and consulting.

Helping Courts Address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

As the challenges of adjusting to the COVID pandemic ease within state courts, persistent concerns regarding the fairness and equity of these same courts remain. Efforts to address these longer-term issues often have focused on judicial decision-making and legal issues. National Center for State Courts Director of  Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion Edwin Bell shares how courts are working to improve DEI through newly developed policies and practices.

Trump supporters’ threats to Florida judge spur democracy concerns

Experts warn that the focus on a judge, coming amid an uptick in threats to the judiciary in general, is dangerous for the rule of law in the U.S. and the country’s viability as a democracy. Nathan Hall, a principal consultant with the National Center for State Courts, noted that the combination of lagging public trust, coupled with access to judges’ addresses and personal information impacts everyone from nationally known Supreme Court justices to otherwise anonymous state judges.