NCSC in the news

How Courts Can Use Generative AI To Help Pro Se Litigants

While AI tools can help pro se litigants more easily navigate legal issues, courts face challenges when implementing generative AI, including lack of funding and in-house technological talent, data security and privacy concerns, and the tendency for generative AI models to output false information. Zach Zarnow, deputy managing director of the National Center for State Courts' access to justice team, said, "Being very thoughtful about your vendor relationships and contracting and procurement can be really important to making sure that at the very least, everybody understands the respective roles and responsibilities and that the data ownership and usage is defined."

United States & Barbados Partner To Improve Court System Efficiency

The United States government,  in collaboration with the Barbados judiciary, has announced the launch of a pilot Court Case Management System. Developed and implemented by the National Center for State Courts, this innovative system marks a significant step forward in modernizing Barbados' judicial administration and enhancing regional security.  The electronic case management system in the Magistrates Courts in Barbados will align Barbados with international and regional best practices and increase the ability of its courts to meet future challenges.

Judicial Leaders Praise Federal Bill to Protect State Judges

National court leaders, including the National Center for State Courts, praised the introduction of new legislation in the United States Congress designed to help state courts address escalating threats of violence against judges, court staff, and the public. The legislation comes on the heels of a surge in both threats and actual acts of violence against judges across America.

Rapid Response Team Helps State Courts Navigate AI

A team of state court administrators and chief justices, supported by the National Center for State Courts, is developing resources to help courts address AI by deciding their own approaches. "It seems like every couple of weeks there's a new story about an attorney or even a self-represented litigant using one of these technologies, and the information is not always credible or even accurate," said Shay Cleary, a managing director at the National Center for State Courts.

How State Courts Are Improving Virtual  Hearings

State courts are improving virtual hearings by leveraging new technology, redesigning courtroom, offering technical training to staff and improving case practices through the National Center for State Courts' Hybrid Hearings Improvement Initiative. Through the initiative, NCSC connected courts with technology partners and consultants to help them improve their hybrid hearings. "We intentionally selected a diverse group of courts to participate in the project to help us understand a broader range of challenges and solutions," said Lindsay Hafford, NCSC project director and principal court management consultant.

Where did all the small claims court cases go?

As concerns mount about lower-income people being shut out of the civil justice system because they can't afford a lawyer, such longstanding "people's courts" offer quick, simplified proceedings without all the formal trappings of litigation. But small claims caseloads in recent years have been dropping, in some instances dramatically. Between 2018 and 2022, small claims court cases nationwide fell 32%, according to Danielle Hirsch, a managing director in the Court Consulting division at the National Center for State Courts. In part, the pandemic is to blame, she said, when civil filings dipped across the board.

Jury duty reform discussed with Pa. lawmakers

Pennsylvania has among the lowest juror compensation rates. In 1980, lawmakers raised daily compensation to $25 for jurors beyond the third day of service. Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the National Center for State Courts' Center for Jury Studies,  cited increasing threats from social and economic barriers that prevent broader representation of juries. "Even at the maximum amount most people would lose $100 or more out of pocket for every day that they served," Hannaford-Agor said.

New Summits Aim to Strengthen Cybersecurity for U.S. Courts

While all state and local governments wrestle with cyber challenges, the judicial branch faces some specific obstacles.  The National Center for State Courts and Joint Technology Committee - in partnership with the Center for Internet Security and fueled by a State Justice Institute grant - are launching summits across the country to help courts prepare for and recover from cyber disasters. "The goal is they will be able to leave that summit after this education with essentially a template, relationships and the ability to more quickly respond," said NCSC Managing Director Shay Cleary.

Houston Evictions Are Skyrocketing. One Court Is Testing a Solution.

Last year, one in every ten Harris County renters faced losing their home. A new pilot program aims to slow down the process and connect tenants with resources. "We really want to treat a trial before a judge as the last resort, when people have had every other opportunity to try to resolve their dispute without moving forward to trial and adversarial litigation," says Samira Nazem, a lawyer who directs the National Center for State Courts' Eviction Diversion Initiative.

'Shell-shocked' Courts Review Security as Threats Increase

Law enforcement and court administrators are taking a hard look at their security after a gunman shot at the olorado Supreme Court, a Nevada judge was attacked on the bench, and a nationwide string of bomb threats shuttered judicial buildings across the country all in the space of a week.  "I think many in the court community are a little shell-shocked by what they are seeing," said Nathan Hall, a consultant for the National Center for State Courts specializing in courthouse planning and security. "Court security is not a new concern for most courts, but the recent spate of incidents and threats are heightening the sense of vulnerability."