These special reports are part of the National Center for State Courts’ “Trends in the State Courts” series. The reports are mailed out quarterly and serve as informative and timely updates for state court leaders by NCSC staff. Any opinions expressed herein are those of the authors, not necessarily of the National Center for State Courts.
FREE MONEY? Not Quite. A Guide to Grants and the Courts
Every court has concerns about sustainability. We often focus on financial sustainment, but sustainability is a much broader concept. Sustainability involves not just sustained funding, but also how the court evolves and changes to meet its community’s needs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, courts are facing more challenges with increasing backlogs of cases, managing of human resources, and budget deficits that may have lingering effects for years.
Americans are voicing their concern over the state of civics proficiency among the citizenry, and
they should be, considering the startling numbers; Americans young and old are struggling with basic
What does it mean to deliver justice in a world of growing virtual relationships defined by boundlessness? How can the courts establish justice, protect core values, and remain relevant in an increasingly physically disconnected, but virtually interconnected world? The answer lies within four themes: the delivery of justice, self-service, society, and rethinking.
What will the courts look like in 2029 and beyond? What are the challenges they’ll face? More importantly, how will they deal with those challenges?
We all know the TV reality shows about hoarders: garages filled to the top with yard-sale bargains; path through living rooms filled with years of magazines and newspapers; every available space used for storage, even the bed. While we may look in amazement at these scenes of chaos in other people’s lives, lurking in our own organizations, and even on our home computers, we may find our own hoards—digital hoards, that is.
Most courts understand that accommodations must be made for a litigant who is blind or deaf, or who has mobility issues or other more obvious types of disabilities. Confusion or misunderstandings may occur when the disability is not visible. Hidden disabilities most typically involve a person with a mental or cognitive impairment (e.g., a combat veteran with PTSD using a service animal), but they could also be situations where a physical impairment could cause fatigue, language, or cognitive difficulties.
Across the country, judges are hearing an increased number of drug-impaired driving cases. Recently, three judges associated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) partnership with the ABA Judicial Division talked with NCSC about the latest issues in adjudicating impaired-driving cases involving substances other than alcohol.
Suppose you are a judge preparing for a complex piece of commercial litigation. As a conscientious, hard-working jurist, you want to familiarize yourself with the commercial setting of the dispute, including information about the relevant industry and industry practices. Websites maintained by the parties to the dispute, and websites from trade groups and other sources, can provide significant background.
During times of crisis and disaster, courts were often treated not as an independent branch but as a local or state agency. That mindset has, to a degree, changed in recent years, post 9/11 and most certainly post-Hurricane Katrina, as courts have confronted issues related to their own operations and the need to provide a forum and venue to address not only their daily activities but also the special conditions that arise amid disaster.
Since the Great Recession in 2008, caseloads in the state courts have been declining rapidly—16 percent between 2006 and 2015, a loss of about 16 million cases. Across all case categories—civil, criminal, juvenile, domestic relations, traffic—and across all states, this pattern is pervasive and persistent. While there is some variation due to demographics or policy and budget changes within states, the overall trend is clear. What is not known is why this is happening.
For the past ten years, the National Center for State Courts has tracked the number of female justices serving in the state courts of last resort. Our data track 53 courts because we include the D.C. Court of Appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The most noticeable trend in the past ten years has been the steady increase in the number of courts of last resort whose number of female justices equals or exceeds 50 percent of the court’s total membership.
There are a variety of different scenarios that can bring animals to the courthouse. They may be accompanying a witness, a litigant, an attorney in a court case, or someone entering the court to file paperwork.
With so much attention being paid to the 2016 presidential election, down-ballot items tend to be forgotten. However, ballot items in four states this November will have a direct impact on state courts. These proposals represent not just questions for voters in a particular year, but also broader discussions about how state courts operate, ranging from judicial age and capacity to the role of independently elected clerks of court.
Body Worn Cameras, or “BWCs,” are increasingly being deployed by law enforcement agencies.
As our society becomes more dependent on mobile devices, the policy issues on allowing these devices into courtrooms become more complex.