What are Tiny Chats?
Tiny Chats are bite-sized annotated videos that touch on specific access to justice topics and court operations.
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Our most recent Tiny Chat
Tiny Chat 54: Hybrid Hearings
Hybrid hearings are in the eyes of the beholder. There are many types that are useful for many different reasons. How will your court handle in-person and remote hearings? What kinds of things should you keep in mind? Have you seen any lovely art lately? Let all that and more wash over you in this Tiny Chat.
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Tiny Chat 53: Robyn's Experience
Tiny Chats explore a lot of access to justice topics from an operational, procedural, and sometimes even academic viewpoint. This chat is different. Danielle and Zach talk with Robyn about what it was like for her to try and get divorced from her abusive spouse, how it felt asking for a fee waiver, and what she wishes courts understood about what it is like for someone to try and use the system on their own. Access to justice is about people.
Tiny Chat 52: File for Free
Danielle and Zach debut their first single, "File for Free." Thankfully for all concerned, they wrote it, but they don't sing it. For that, the extremely talented Wesleyan Spirits did an exceptional job arranging and performing the world's first absolute ear worm A-Ha cover about civil filing fee waivers. See more of the Wesleyan Spirits on Instagram @the_wesleyan_spirits and on YouTube.
Tiny Chat 51: Evictions
Now is the time for your court to start thinking about how it will handle eviction cases. Zach and Danielle have traveled back in time from the future to offer courts four big picture things to consider as they prepare for an influx of eviction cases. Please watch, share, and heed this warning from the future - the time is now to start preparing.
Tiny 50: Night Court
Zach and Danielle are back in their red sweaters for another trip through the Tiny Chat neighborhood. Join Judge Keven O'Grady and Vannessa Rockers from Johnson County, Kansas' District Court to learn about their innovative night court program that allows court users to solve their problems outside of typical business hours.
Tiny Chat 49: Eviction Diversion
Eviction diversion programs can be a win-win-win for tenants, landlords, and courts. Solomon Greene, from the Urban Institute, joins Danielle and Zach to discuss the key features and lessons learned from their nationwide study of 46 eviction diversion programs. Get the highlights from the chat, and be sure to read the report.
Tiny Chat 48: User Testing
Here is the good news: You can learn how to user test in six easy steps. User testing can improve your court, improve the experience of users, and reduce staff burdens by improving communications, forms, websites, and more. Here is the bad news: those idiots from Tiny Talks make a guest appearance. Those guys are the worst.
Tiny Chats 47: What's Next? - Cell Phone Policies
Tiny Chat 46: Making Friends - Court Staff
In this episode Zach and Danielle ask court staff weird questions, laugh at the answers, and make some new friends. Who doesn't love making new friends? Come meet Brett Howard from California, Aja Brooks from New Mexico, and Bridget Gernander from Minnesota.
Tiny Chat 45: Deliberative Decision-Making
Life is made up of choices. A series of decisions that come one after the other, day after day. Some made quickly, others take longer to deliberate. Join Zach and Danielle as they talk with their colleague, Dr. Andrea Miller, about her research with the American Bar Foundation, where she studied judicial decision making related to race, gender, and socio-economic status with all the trial judges in a state. She shares key findings from that work, including the need to confront bias and the value of deliberative decision making.
Tiny Chat 44: Incarcerated Litigants
Incarcerated litigants are part of the community. In this edition of Tiny Chat Neighborhood, come learn from Presiding Judge Dickler of the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois about how she partnered with legal aid and leveraged technology to provide family law services to litigants in prison. Learn why and how your court can replicate this program.
Tiny Chat 43: Effective Meetings
Make your meetings better! Danielle and Zach are joined by Kelly Tautges, Pro Bono Counsel and Director at Faegre Drinker, and Julia Wilson, of Julia Wilson Coaching and Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, who share important and tangible lessons about how people can plan and lead more engaging and effective remote meetings.
Tiny Chat 42: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Edwin Bell, NCSC's Director of Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion, joins Danielle and Zach to discuss how courts can use data and improve policies to advance equity and inclusion goals.
Tiny Chat 41: Public Relations
In the courts there are two separate yet equally important groups - the people who work in the courts and the people who use them. How does your court inform court users? First, hear from the public about what they know about the courts. Second, Danielle and Zach talk with Stacey Marz and Rebecca Koford from the Alaska courts to discuss how they keep the public and the media informed and dispel misconceptions.
Tiny Chat 40: Lawyer Cat
Have you seen the lawyer cat? Meet Judge Roy Ferguson (394th Judicial District, Texas), the man behind the moment from that hearing. Learn how this is actually an access to justice moment.
Tiny Chat 39: Plain Language
Rochelle Klempner from the New York Unified Court System joins Zach and Danielle to explain how courts can harness the power of plain language to better inform court users. Using plain language saves courts and patrons time and money, improves public confidence and trust, increases court efficiency and operations, and provides greater understanding and access to justice.
Tiny Chat 38: Commercials
In a nod to the Super Bowl and the power of cheesy local commercials, Danielle and Zach take a quick spin through some innovations and practices that can improve court operations. Learn about tools for evaluating caseflow management, methods for bridging the digital divide, the power of behavioral nudges, and some examples of a clerk's office going virtual.
Tiny Chat 37: Debt Collection Cases Best Practices
Step into the Tiny Chat lab! Zach and Danielle are joined by Brittany Kauffman from the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System to discuss best practices that courts can employ when handling debt collection cases. Put on your lab coat and join us as we walk through the periodic table of debt collection cases innovations and strategies. Be sure to download the included reports and the periodic table itself!
- Debt Collection Table Companion
- Debt Collectors to Consumers
- Fair and Efficient Handling of Consumer Debt Actions: Key Steps and Tools to Implement NOW Webinar
- Key Steps and Tools to Implement Now to Ensure the Fair and Efficient Handling of Consumer Debt Actions
- Preventing Whack-a-Mole Management of Consumer Debt Cases: A Proposal for a Coherent and Comprehensive Approach for State Courts
Tiny Chat 36: Expungement and Sealing Summits
Courts and clerks can work together with police and other community partners to offer criminal records sealing and expungement summits, with powerful individual results for those assisted and with great benefit to the community at large. Danielle and Zach are joined by Katie Blakeman, who shares her successful strategy honed over the years during her tenure as Clerk of the Circuit Court in Champaign County, Illinois. She explains how to work with partners to create a summit, how she successfully pivoted to host a virtual summit this year, and tips for those interested in doing this in their community.
Tiny Chat 35: Making Friends, Judges Edition
This is the true story of three judges, strangers, picked to answer the same questions, work together to advance access to justice, and have the whole thing taped. Find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start getting... well, they are all pretty polite. Zach and Danielle talk to some of our country's finest jurists about the stuff that matters, like what makes a good morning, memories from growing up, and what access to justice means to them.
Tiny Chat 34: Sea Captains and Kiosks
There is only one definitive source when it comes to learning more about self-help kiosks - the pages of Sea Captain Monthly. Grab your coat, comb your beard, and practice your "Ahoy!". Danielle and Zach recite the Sea Captain's Kiosk Pledge, take a kiosk quiz, and explain how your court can set up a self-help kiosk.
Tiny Chat 33: Visual Communication
Julia Weber is an expert at visual communication and she joins Danielle and Zach to discuss (and show!) how visual elements can be incorporated into court communications and instructions to aid in understanding, retention, and stress reduction. Julia shares some basics techniques, some workhorse icons, and explains how you, yes you, can do this in your court. You can connect with Julia here.
Tiny Chat 32: Instructions
Imagine doing something you've never done before. You're unfamiliar with the steps you need to take. You don't know what you'll need, how long it will take, or what it will cost. Could be a little stressful, right? If you're Zach, that thing is making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If you're a court user it could be any number of things - from filing a complaint to completing a form to serving the other party. Join Danielle and Zach as they give you some tips on how to write good instructions.
Tiny Chat 31: Running Club Neighborhood
Being a criminal defendant in the court system is hard. Being a prosecutor in the court system is hard. Being a judge in the court system is hard. Being a cop is hard. They could all run away. Or they could all run together. Zach and Danielle put their red sweaters back on to talk with the incredibly inspiring Judge Craig Mitchell, founder of the Los Angeles based Skid Row Runners Club, as part of an ongoing series about how courts can connect with their communities.
Welcome back to the Tiny Chats neighborhood. In this series, we don our red sweaters, channel Mister Rogers, and showcase courts engaging with their communities in the most wonderful of ways. Could your state's supreme court hold oral arguments at local high schools? Of course they could! Join Danielle and Zach as they talk with Juile Finn from Maine's Judicial Branch about their long-running and beloved program doing just that.
Zach and Danielle made a PSA. Watch and/or steal it here! Giving court users good guidance around procedural issues is really important. Mistakes can trip them up to the detriment of their case and uninformed court users can take up a lot of staff time asking the same kinds of questions over and over. We made a short video that you can use to explain service of process to your court users and we hope you will take it and use it! Want to modify it or talk through other types of procedural information?
Sign up for a call here and be sure to check out the companion document with some great examples from around the country.
Every week is a good week to celebrate pro bono. Zach hosts Danielle and Kelly Tautges, Pro Bono Counsel at Faegre Drinker, for an intense game of "How well do you know pro bono and how well do you know each other?" Watch them battle it out and offer up a variety of ways that courts can engage with and support pro bono.
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Join Zach and Danielle for the first Tiny Chat in a series highlighting innovative ways courts are engaging with their communities, styled in loving tribute to Mister Roger's Neighborhood. This conversation is with Judge Libby Hines from Michigan's 15th Judicial District and it details her Street Outreach Court - how it was established, its impact, and ways other courts could follow this model.
Wanna play a game? Join Zach and Danielle for a game of Uno and learn the difference between legal information and legal advice. Now more than ever, it is important to give court users as much information as possible. Understandably, court staff are careful not to cross the line from neutral party to advocate. Learn the ins-and-outs, see some Five Purrel examples from other jurisdictions, and have a laugh - or your money back.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued a nationwide evictions moratorium order. Join Zach and Danielle in the Tiny Chat kitchen for the recipe your court can follow in response to that order. And if that weren't enough, they are joined by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, who is also Chair of CCJ and Co-Chair of the CCJ/COSCA Pandemic Response team. Chief Justice Hecht shares how Texas followed the recipe described to respond to the order and shares details of their ambitious eviction diversion program.
A judge and a doctor walk into a Tiny Chat... and we all learned a lot! Join Danielle and Zach as they discuss the parallels between the medical and legal professions with Judge Jennifer Bailey and Dr. Danielle Ofri. Cross-sector thinking about check-lists, procedural fairness, how to handle high volume patient/patron settings, and so much more.
Danielle and Zach are getting in shape with some tips and a plan from Mary McClymont on how to start a non-lawyer navigator program. Mary offers an overview of the kinds of navigator programs in operation, the ways they have adjusted to COVID, and a plan for your court to launch their own program. And that's not all! Coach Mary is available for free personal training to discuss details and answer your questions. Sign up to talk with her at ncsc.org/drtinychat.
In this Tiny Chat, Danielle and Zach open the edition by discussing CCJ/COSCA's six guiding principles courts should follow when considering the adoption of new technology, and how to apply them. The show is stolen, however, by five state Chief Justices who are brought in to serenade the hosts with a tribute to the 1947 children’s classic, Goodnight Moon.
School is back in session! Join Zach & Danielle for Unbanked 101, their teeniest Tiny Chat yet (only five and a half minutes). We guarantee you'll learn something and be entertained, or your money back!
Let's go on an online dispute resolution (ODR) road trip! Join Zach and Danielle as they cross the country exploring key considerations for jurisdictions considering ODR. See the sights, learn some lessons, and keep your eyes peeled for a special guest.
Danielle and Zach are joined by Paula Hannaford-Agor (NCSC) and Emily LaGratta (LaGratta Consulting) to discuss how courts can take steps to ensure procedural fairness, especially during the pandemic. Come learn the foundational tenets and how they can be applied in remote proceedings.
Courts rely on the US Postal Service to effectuate service and to deliver time sensitive documents. The date a document is mailed or received can also have enormous implications, as many court rules specify those "triggering events" which can start the clock running toward things like a default judgement or wage garnishment. How can and should courts adapt to changing USPS procedures and the implications of those changes? Watch to find out.
NCSC Consultants Danielle Hirsch and Zach Zarnow know that courts can't solve the digital divide on their own. But they also know of many examples from across the country of ways that courts can still make a difference in assisting court users overcome barriers to technology. Join them in a lightning round to hear them all!
It is never the wrong time to show empathy and practice mindfulness, and right now it is even more important than ever. Judge Steven Leifman from Florida's 11th Judicial Circuit (Miami-Dade County) offers his perspective on how judges and court staff can be kind, practice mindfulness and help court patrons during these difficult times.
Tiny Chat 15: Poverty
- Andrew Hammond, Pleading Poverty in Federal Court
- Victor D. Quintanilla, Doing Unrepresented Status: The Social Construction and Production of Pro Se Persons
- Kathryn M. Kroeper and Victor D. Quintanilla et. al., Underestimating the Unrepresented: Cognitive Biases Disadvantage Pro Se Litigants in Family Law Cases
First, Professor Andrew Hammond from the University of Florida Levin College of Law join Zach and Danielle to explain poverty. Professor Hammond details how poverty is measured, how the pandemic has affected people living in poverty and offers ideas for how courts can improve civil filing fee processes to meet the needs of those living in poverty.
Next, Danielle and Zach talk with Adrian Barr, Managing Attorney of the Bloomington Office of Prairie State Legal Services, to discuss poverty behind the statistics. Adrian shares several moving stories about clients he has helped, and the difficulty reality for many of those he has been unable to serve.
Tiny Chat 14: Data
Carlos Manjarrez and Dan Bernstein from the Legal Services Corporation join Zach and Danielle to discuss how courts can use data. They offer nine concrete tips that will help courts make better use of their data and explain the benefits of collaborating with outside data analysts.
NCSC's own Diane Robinson joins Danielle and Zach to explain the National Open Data Court Standards (NODS) project and how courts can take advantage of all the NODS resources. Check it out at ncsc.org/nods to learn how your court can use NODS to create, share, and integrate user-friendly court data.
How can courts safely offer in-person self-help services? Danielle and Zach are joined by NCSC Senior Architect and Facilities Planner Allie McKenzie to discuss six tips from their new paper exploring this topic.
What is it actually like to be a self-represented litigant? What better way to find out than to ask? Zach and Danielle sit down with Monica, who shares her story of trying to utilize the court system without a lawyer.
David Slayton, Administrative Director of the Texas Office of Court Administration joins Danielle and Zach to discuss new guidance from CCJ/COSCA on high volume dockets during the pandemic. Start watching a Tiny Chats dive into high volume week here and please enjoy our very first scripted skit - the High Volume Docket Cafe!
Erika Rickard, Project Director at the Pew Charitable Trust's Civil Legal Modernization Unit, joins Danielle and Zach to share some high level takeways from their excellent recent report on debt collection. Then, Zach and Danielle try their hand at some car puns. Watch to find out why!
Has one man ever been so pleased with another man's mustache? Unlikely. Zach and Danielle talk with Mark Swartz, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing about procedural considerations in evictions cases as well as tips for working with civil legal aid partners.
Associate Judge Jeremy Fowler of Potter Co., TX joins Danielle and Zach to explain his lessons learned and technology suggestions for approaching remote child support hearings.
Zach and Danielle are joined by Dave Byers, Arizona State Court Administrator, to discuss remote scheduling and payment options for traffic cases.
Jennifer Hubbard, from the Fulton County Self-Help Center, asks Danielle and Zach to explore the trends they are seeing in language access during the pandemic in the latest mailbag Tiny Chat.
Chief Justice Bridget McCormack of the Michigan Supreme Court and Dan Heath, New York Times best-selling author of the book Upstream, join Danielle and Zach in a Tiny Chat about trying to solve problems before they happen and system design in the justice system.
NCSC Consultants Zach Zarnow and Danielle Hirsch are answering your questions as part of a series of special mailbag episodes. First up, how can courts better partner with non-traditional stakeholders? Featuring Utah Supreme Court Justice Dino Himonas and Amy Duncan from the Louisiana State Bar Association.
How can courts approach the processes for the application and review of civil filing fee waivers during the pandemic? What should courts consider to ensure court staff and self-represented litigants understand the necessary steps and requirements for requesting a civil filing fee waiver while also accounting for social distancing requirements? Would it help if NCSC Consultants Zach Zarnow and Danielle Hirsch rhymed about this?
In the sixth Tiny Chat, NCSC Consultants Danielle Hirsch and Zach Zarnow interview court staff and partners from six states to learn how their jurisdictions are handling self-represented litigant e-filing during COVID-19. Join us on a spin across the country as we learn more about their various approaches during the pandemic.
What can state birds teach us about digital signatures, notarization, and digital notice? Not much, but they are nice to look at. Join NCSC Consultants Danielle Hirsch and Zach Zarnow in this latest Tiny Chat, which outlines initial digital alternatives to in-person procedural requirements for court pleadings. This Tiny Chat builds on the Digital Divide episode and foreshadows the next episode on Self-Represented Litigant E-Filing.
With many court services now being offered online, Zach and Danielle discuss the impact of the digital divide with Monica Anderson from the Pew Research Center and David Kelly from the US Children's Bureau. Also appearing: questionable head wear and two surprise guests.
Zach and Danielle are joined by Karen Lash, federal grants guru, who helps them understand the federal block/formula/open-end reimbursement funds (AKA pass-through funds) available to court systems navigating COVID-19 with a focus on civil self help, technology innovation and domestic violence.
In this Tiny Chat, Danielle Hirsch and Zach Zarnow offer five tips for courts to keep in mind when crafting a communication strategy around COVID-19. They also look at some concrete examples of courts communicating well and fail at solving a Rubik's cube.
The first chat focuses on how courts should think about court users in their response to COVID-19.