State Court Viz-a-thon, Engagement Through Action by the National Center for State Courts

About the Competition


Classic and Boring Structure Chart To Transform Into IdeaThe National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is hosting a virtual, multi-week contest to create a supportable, interactive, data visualization of the state court structure charts.

You can enhance transparency and comparability by turning our static, cumbersome-to-update structure charts into a tool that provides transparency, and ease of investigation into how the US state courts are structured and administered.

The existing structure charts all look something like Georgia's:
Georgia State Court Structure Chart

 PRIZES ● ● ● ●

Grand Prize: $5,000

Runners-up will receive prizes totaling $3,500

The Court Statistics Project (CSP) collects nationwide state court caseload data and court characteristics.

This is the only dataset of its kind: nationwide, comparable data, not found anywhere else.

Densely packed, not interactive, and it takes some time to figure out what is going on. You can see them all: State Court Structure Charts.

Help NCSC create a user-friendly tool using data that, until now, was only available in separate data sets; this is a FIRST! You can enhance public access to court data and facilitate understanding of court processes.

NCSC's State Court Structure Charts are one of the most referred to and cited resources for:
● court professionals
● academics
● and journalists.

Register for the Viz-a-thon and create a new resource that will engage and inform! Registration closes at 11:59 PM, Wednesday September 19th.

Clock Timeline
Water Droplet September 20: Data drop: the start of the contest
Question September 20 - 27: Virtual Q&A sessions
Checkmark September 30: Participants submit final solutions
Prize Medal October 3: Finalists announced
Computer Monitor October 4: Live broadcast of finalist presentations and judging
Registration ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

80 contestants are competing in the 2018 Viz-a-thon: 47 individuals, and 11 multi-person teams.

Check back on October 3rd to find out which Finalists are moving on to the Viz-a-thon Live Event!

Registration is closed.

Have questions? Contact Diana McSpadden,

Have Questions? ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

NCSC subject matter experts and stakeholders will be holding online Q&A Sessions 9/20/2018 - 9/27/2018 for participants to ask questions about data, technology, design, and structure chart uses.

Q&A Session information will be sent to registered participants, so please register to learn more.


Why Differences in State Court Practices Matter from State Courts on Vimeo.


Uses of the State Court Structure Charts: Part 1 from State Courts on Vimeo.

More videos on our channel


Judges ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Image of Viz-a-thon judge Neal KauderNeal B. Kauder

President VisualResearch

Neal B. Kauder, President, VisualResearch is internationally recognized as an expert in the field of data analytics and information architecture. He conducts corporate seminars and speaks at conferences on visualizing data and other complex information. Formally trained in criminal justice research with an emphasis on empirically-based judicial reform and performance measurement, he now serves as a consultant or conference speaker across all public and private sectors. Clients include BB&T Bank, Starbucks, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), Bonneville Power Authority, Navigant, The World Bank (Visualizing Performance Indicators in Romania), USAID (Judicial Reform Project in Bosnia), ManusMedical, Education Testing Services (ETS), RandolphSquareIP, the Commercial Litigation Branch of DOJ, College Futures Foundation (CFF), and the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Mr. Kauder has also directed the design of commercial litigation and courtroom exhibits, most notably General Dynamics & McDonnell Douglas v. United States, a $9 billion contract case involving the cancellation of the Navy’s A-12 stealth fighter contract. Mr. Kauder has taught or guest lectured at various academic institutions including the University of Richmond, the Institute for Court Management, the National FBI Academy (Behavioral Sciences Unit), and the Ivy League Summer Institute, 2017, Harvard University.

Kim Nieves

Director of Research and Statistics | Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts

Kim Nieves, Ph.D. comes to court administration from corrections, where she was a prison social worker. She holds a BA in Psychology from the New School University, and a Master’s in Social Work and Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Nieves has been with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts for 17 years, currently serving as the Director of Research and Statistics. She is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania; Performance Evaluation, Performance Management and Policy Analysis are among the graduate level courses she teaches. She is one of two data specialists appointed to the national advisory committee of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) Court Statistics Committee, and a regularly invited participant in the National Center for State Courts’ annual Data Specialists Roundtable. Dr. Nieves’ research and project foci include civil case management systems, family court initiatives, performance measurement, and data visualizations/infographics.

Alexandria PayneImage of Viz-a-thon judge Alexandria Payne

Data Analyst and Visualization Specialist | Knowledge and Information Services | National Center for State Courts

Alexandria Payne is the Data Analyst and Visualization Specialist for the Knowledge and Information Services division of the National Center for State Courts. She is primarily responsible for creating engaging visual analytics in support of company research, publications, and presentations through the assessment of comparative data. Her work includes liaising with product, research, and taskforce teams in order to communicate judicial assessment and court consult work in a highly readable format that preserves data integrity. Prior to her work with NCSC, Mrs. Payne was the Digital Services Manager for the City of Newport News where she oversaw technology implementation and systems management for the Department of Library and Information Services. Mrs. Payne is ITIL v3 certified and holds a M.S. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as an M.B.A. from the College of William & Mary.

David SlaytonDavid Slayton

Administrative Director | Texas Office of Court Administration | Austin, Texas

In May of 2012, David W. Slayton began serving in his current position as the Administrative Director for the Texas Office of Court Administration and as Executive Director of the Texas Judicial Council. Prior to this position, Mr. Slayton served as the Director of Court Administration for the Lubbock County District Courts and County Courts at Law for 8 years. He has been employed by the judicial branch in various roles for almost 20 years. Previously, he served as Court Services Supervisor for the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas, in Dallas, Texas, and as a Trial Court Coordinator for the 99th District Court in Lubbock County. Mr. Slayton earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Texas Tech University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Troy University. He is a 2007 Graduate Fellow of the Institute for Court Management. He received the 2008 Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts and the 2010 Robert O. Dawson Award for Indigent Defense. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Conference of State Court Administrators, is the co-chair of the National Court Joint Technology Committee, a Past President of the National Association for Court Management, and was formerly the Secretary on the Board of Directors for the Texas Association for Drug Court Professionals. In addition to the aforementioned organizations, Mr. Slayton is a member of the Texas Association for Court Administration.

Image of Viz-a-thon judge Nicole WatersNicole Waters

Director | Court Statistics Project | National Center for State Courts

Nicole L. Waters, Director of the Court Statistics Project, has been with the National Center for State Courts since 2000. She also serves as the project director for the Court Statistics Project, which annually compiles caseload statistics from state courts across the U.S. Current areas of research include investigating the evidence-based research on problem-solving courts, evaluating issues of case processing and timeliness, and examining the policy and social implications of jury procedures. Dr. Waters has served as faculty for courses in research and evaluation methods designed for court leaders and judges, including the Fellows program, and serves on the advisory board of NCSC's educational division, the Institute for Court Management. At the University of Delaware, she received a Ph.D. in sociology with a specialization in law and society and research methodology/statistics. She received a M.A. in general experimental psychology from California State University in Fresno and her B.A. in psychology and statistics from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.

Viz Requirements ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Visualization Requirements

What is considered a data visualization?
A successful Viz-a-thon visualization will represent the hierarchy of state courts, and the flow of cases types through those courts. The visualization will represent properties of the courts in a graphical form, translating quantitative and qualitative properties of the courts into visual figures. The graphical forms can be simple or complex but the underlying data must be represented.
What forms can the visualization take?

A winning Viz-a-thon submission will be an interactive tool or web app, either:
● developed from scratch,

● developed using an existing visualization library (e.g. D3.js) *,

● or developed using an existing data visualization tool (e.g.'s Tableau Public, Power BI)*.

* If an existing code library or tool is used, then attribution must be made to the library or tool, and if there is a cost associated with the library or tool, the cost must be declared when the solution is submitted. (See Intellectual Property Rights Section of Terms and Conditions.)

What absolutely, positively needs to be included in the visualization?

An effective Viz-a-thon solution will show all the required data (see below), and will:
● be interactive, 
● display the courts in an single selected US state,
● demonstrate how the courts in a selected state relate to each other,
● show where types of court cases are heard in the state,
● and allow a user to investigate the similarities and differences in court structure and court cases between multiple US states.

Technical Requirements

● Your solution must be cloud hosted, or self-hosted, and available for viewing for the duration of the contest.
● All supporting code used in creating the solution must be made accessible to the judges.
● Your solution must have a cloud based infrastructure. This can be open source or have a standalone license with reasonable cost (any licensing costs must be disclosed).
● NCSC must be able to use the data visualization solution free of charge, or if a code library or tool is used that costs money, then the cost must be declared when the solution is submitted. (See Intellectual Property Rights Section of Terms and Conditions.)
● The solution must be maintainable through a SQL database/Excel Spreadsheet.

Data requirements

● Teams must produce at least 10 state court structure charts.
● Must include New York and Georgia.
● Must have some filterability/searchability.
● Required filters: State, Trial Structure, Court Level, CSP Aggregation, Neighbor State, and Case Types.
● Recommended Filters: Rural, Population, Population Density, Appellate Criminal Structure, Death Penalty, Funding Source, and Caseload Size.
● Must show Appeals Process.
● Required data elements to display: State, Court Names, Court Levels, Funding, Appeal from Administrative Agency, Notes, Links, and Case Types.
● All other data elements provided are recommended but not required.
● Judging will include the ease that additional data points, and filters can be added to the visualization.


● Resolution be HD (1,920X1,080).
● Responsive design would be amazing, but we know this can be challenging. Feel free to consider the ease with which response design could be included.
● Ability to print each state's high-level structure chart on one page.
● Including optional data elements for comparison, filtering, and sorting.

Be sure to read the full Rules and Terms & Conditions.