"The increasing inaccessibility of legal services—for the poor, for even the middle class—undermines the rule of law for us all. We are a nation and state that believes the law provides protection for those who are most powerful, for those who are most vulnerable."


- Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson
of Texas, State of the Judiciary 2011


"Ours is supposed to be a system that levels the playing field by meting out justice without regard to wealth or class or race, a system that lives up to the promise emblazoned in marble on our Supreme Court, ‘EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW. '"


-- Laurence H. Tribe
Senior Counselor for Access to Justice,
U.S. Department of Justice
at the Annual Meeting
of the Conference of Chief Justices and
Conference of State Court Administrators
July 26, 2010, Vail, Colorado

Read the full keynote address


Your may download the entire 2011 edition of Future Trends in State Courts in pdf format here.


You can find past editions in the Future Trends series in our archive.

Future Trends in State Courts 2011
An important part of the mission of the National Center for State Courts is helping courts to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Since 1992, NCSC's Knowledge and Information Services has produced a report on key trends from both inside and outside of the justice system that affect court operations.

Future Trends in State Courts 2011 is meant to stimulate thought and discussion about the many ways courts can enhance access to justice for all.


The demand for courts to provide more information about their cases and their operations is expanding. Technology is making our world "smaller" and forcing the courts to wrestle with new issues, such as electronic access to court records that could contain personal, potentially damaging information about litigants; the increasing use of personal electronic devices, such as smart phones, by jurors, journalists, and spectators; and court-related blogging—sometimes positive, sometimes negative.

How courts are tackling access-related issues is the focus of Future Trends in State Courts 2011. This year's edition examines how courts are coping with increasing demands for public access through:

This year's articles discuss what courts are doing to improve public access, to make court operations easier to understand, and to help litigants, lawyers, and judges do their jobs better. For example, what is the best technology to use when presenting evidence to a jury? How are social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, affecting court operations—and can courts effectively use social media to educate the public? How does a court control the release of news when everyone with a smart phone sees himself or herself as an "iReporter"? What is the future for problem-solving courts, and what must courts do to cope with vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, the mentally ill, and foster children, in an era of shrinking resources? These are just some of the questions addressed in this year's book, which concludes with a look at the future of justice.

This era of "instant" access can be daunting to our justice system. I hope that Future Trends in State Courts 2011 will help to put the forces affecting our society, and hence our courts, into perspective, and that sharing how other courts are working with these forces will inform your own court's practices.

Mary Campbell McQueen
President, National Center for State Courts

Future Trends in State Courts 2011

Edited by

Carol R. Flango
Amy M. McDowell
Charles F. Campbell
Neal B. Kauder

Knowledge and Information Services Staff

Jesse Rutledge, Vice President, External Affairs
Carol R. Flango, Director, KIS
Joan K. Cochet, Library Resource Manager
Gregory S. Hurley, Senior KIS Analyst
Amy M. McDowell, Education Program Manager
William E. Raftery, KIS Communications and Research Specialist
Deborah W. Saunders, Senior KIS Analyst
Nora E. Sydow, Senior KIS Analyst
Cheryl L. Wright, Program Specialist

2011 Review Board Members