NCSC in the news

Newest woman on NY's top court spurs effort to aid Afghan female judges

Associate Judge Madeline Singas, who joined the Court of Appeals on June 8, suggested to Chief Judge Janet DiFiore that something collaborative be done to assist their counterparts in Afghanistan. It led DiFiore to reach out to the National Center for State Courts and the Conference of Chief Justices to see what national judicial leaders could do, she explained.


Pennsylvania lawmakers’ salaries to rise by nearly $5,000, the largest increase in quarter of a century

A 1995 state law automatically ties the pay of legislators, judges and top executive branch officials, including the governor, to the annual change in the U.S. Department of Labor-determined Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers for Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

This year’s 5.64% pay increase is the largest single-year boost in state governmental officials’ salaries since the 1995 law took effect. Pennsylvania legislators’ base salary is the third-highest in the nation behind California and New York, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The state’s compensation for Supreme Court justices falls a bit lower in the national rankings, to the eighth spot, while county court judges’ pay ranks seventh-highest in the country, according to the most recent data from the National Center for State Courts.


Nebraska Chief Justice inducted into the Warren Burger Society

Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican has been inducted into the 2021 Warren E. Burger Society through the National Center for State Courts. The Society, named for former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, honors individuals who demonstrate professional expertise, leadership, integrity, creativity, innovativeness, and sound judgment.


Illinois Supreme Court working on mental health plan for Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court and National Center for State Courts will host an event to present an overview of national initiatives, report findings and the next steps the Illinois Mental Health Task Force will take. Some of the recommendations the Mental Health Task Force have so far made include building a community-by-community approach to mental health; conducting a statewide mapping to determine where gaps exist and what is working; and creating a statewide vision of what a mental health continuum of care should look like in the state and ensure that plans are shared, transparent and accessible.


The Marble Palace Blog: Midnight at SCOTUS

In 1997, the Supreme Court publicly tried to discourage parties from filing pleas and applications in a way that made the justices make weighty decisions late at night. Cynthia Rapp, a former Supreme Court deputy clerk, wrote a paper for the National Center for State Courts, studying the impact late-night executions have on prison staff, ­judges and others. “Uncertainty about whether an execution will take place or not makes it hard for the team to remain mentally and emotionally ready,” Rapp wrote. “One officer even likened the experience to torture.” Over time, many states shifted executions to daytime hours.


State courts diversifying benches tap mentors to promote pathway

California’s effort to expand the pipeline for potential underrepresented judges has other states crafting similar measures to diversify their courts. States such as New York and Washington have ambitious judicial mentorship programs, but California stands out because it is engaging with the communities it serves directly, said Danielle Hirsch, a principal court management consultant at the National Center for State Courts.


Judicial branch authorizes judges to testify as character witnesses under narrow circumstances

The Colorado Supreme Court's advisory ethics panel has indicated that sitting judges may comment as character witnesses in clemency proceedings, but under a specific circumstance: when the judge is asked to do so as the person who prosecuted the defendant originally.

The advisory opinion is in line with several other states' policies that prevent judges from weighing in on behalf of a person's clemency application unless there is a request to do so. In fall 2018, the National Center for State Courts' Center for Judicial Ethics noted certain exceptions to the rule against character testimony. For example, some states allow judges who were the victims of a crime or whose family members were victims to offer testimony as individuals, not as judges.


N.C. Family Accountability and Recovery Court program named as a model for other communities

The Family Accountability and Recovery Court (FARC) in Lenoir, Wayne, and Greene Counties has been selected as one of nine Rural Innovation Sites by the Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC) Advisory Council. These are the country’s most cutting edge rural justice programs that will serve as models for other communities.

"Rural community leaders often don’t have the resources to develop programs from scratch, but we know that many rural justice leaders, like those from the Family Accountability and Recovery Court, have found innovative solutions to their complex problems,"  said Tara Kunkel, executive director of Rulo Strategies, which organized the RJC in partnership with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). "Before this, there has been no nationally concerted effort for justice leaders and their collaborators in other sectors to share what they know. The Innovation Sites provide a framework that others can build from."


Nine sites in rural America named seedbeds for justice reform

A program to recruit and train new attorneys in South Dakota and a center that helps survivors of trafficking and domestic violence in Kansas become entrepreneurs are among nine “rural innovation” sites which will receive support under an initiative to promote justice reform in the U.S. heartland. The initiative was launched last year by the Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC), in partnership with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).

Although the problems of the justice system in urban areas have received the lion’s share of attention in the media, rural America is reeling from underfunded court systems, overcrowded jails―and has been especially hard hit by the opioid epidemic.


Does it matter how long jury selection takes?

Judges have enormous discretion over the process of jury selection, resulting in different approaches across states, counties or even in neighboring courtrooms. A judge decides whether to use a prescreening survey, whether attorneys can ask questions or provide prepared queries to the judge, how long jurors can be questioned and whether anyone can be questioned individually.

In a 2007 survey conducted by the National Center for State Courts, Wisconsin respondents reported a median of 90 minutes spent on jury selection in felony cases, compared to two hours nationally. States on the higher end of the range included New Jersey with 4.5 hours, New York with 5 hours and Connecticut with 10 hours.


Late Gov. Holton’s legacy includes National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg

Williamsburg’s legal center on South Henry Street, with the National Center for State Courts and the adjacent College of William & Mary Law School, came about through the efforts of Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton nearly 50 years ago. “I recognized that the new National Center for State Courts would be both a valuable economic and intellectual asset, and I was determined to have it located in Virginia,” Holton wrote in his memoir. On the center’s 50th anniversary this year Holton penned a letter to leadership stating that “the Center has lived up to and far exceeded the expectations of the early founders,” explained Robert Baldwin, center executive vice president and general counsel.


Reimagining courthouse design for better access to justice

The courts' response to the COVID-19 pandemic — leveraging technology to offer proceedings and services remotely — will have far-reaching effects on courthouse design. Many courts are now studying and piloting permanent implementation of remote services. Online dispute resolution for nonjury cases revealed the many ways that the public, particularly disenfranchised communities, can be provided with fair access to the justice system, as the need to appear physically in court creates financial and other burdens.

Data from the National Center for State Courts' Court Statistics Project[1] indicates a large backlog of civil, dependency and domestic relations cases due to courthouse closures during the pandemic. Meanwhile, preliminary findings in Ohio[2] and Michigan[3] show juvenile and family cases experiencing faster resolutions as online dispute resolution helps to dissipate heightened emotions in family court by physically separating contentious parties and providing juveniles a medium where they feel more comfortable engaging in the process.


Washington County criminal justice panel sees need for mental health services

Diverting people with mental health problems away from the criminal justice system is a focus of Washington County's Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee. The group met Thursday in a Zoom meeting and discussed ideas including a mental health court, speeding up mental health evaluations for people brought to the county's jail, adding programs in the jail and offering assistance from counseling to housing for those leaving the jail.

A 2019 study of Washington County’s criminal justice system by the National Center for State Courts recommended the county form the coordinating committee to develop plans and collaborate with the county to help with decision-making. The committee includes judges, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, public defenders, probation officers, Quorum Court members, victim support advocates, mental health professionals and community leaders.


Nebraska Court Improvement Project Regional Conferences live in Ogallala and Omaha

The Nebraska Court Improvement Project (CIP) hosted their annual conference as a hybrid in-person and virtual event in September. CIP held the 2021 Regional Conferences in Ogallala and Omaha, and live-streamed the Omaha event, so that everyone across the state could benefit from the education and speakers. Judge Randin Roland, co-chair of the Through the Eyes of the Child initiative opened the conference in Ogallala, and Judge Roger Heideman, also co-chair of the initiative, welcomed attendees virtually in Omaha.

The theme was “Seizing Opportunity, Leveraging Technology, Improving Outcomes” with keynote addresses from Teri Deal, M.Ed., National Center for State Courts, and Cynthia Burnson, Ph.D., Evident Change. The conference included discussion panels of both youth and families with lived experience in the court system.


National Center for State Courts language access work helps Ethiopians in DC Courts

The National Center for State Courts' language access team is wrapping up its training of Amharic oral exam raters, the final piece of a two-year project funded by the State Justice Institute. As part of the project, the team also created an Amharic-English legal glossary and a full oral exam for Amharic court interpreters. “NCSC’s work in collaborating with us to develop the certification exam has been invaluable,” said Sharon Ruiz, coordinator of the court’s Court Interpreting Services & Language Access Program. “It will ensure that Amharic speakers who use the court will receive the help they need to accurately communicate with judges and court employees and improve access to justice for Amharic speakers. They can be assured that they have a voice and that their voices are being heard and understood.”


Lawyers must defend judiciary, senior American judge tells Edinburgh audience

In October, Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht delivered an address during the Scottish Council of Law Reporting’s 11th annual MacFadyn lecture on judicial independence and the rule of law. In his speech, Chief Justice Hecht referenced the Journalist Law School at Loyola Marymount University Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “The U.S. National Center for State Courts sponsors [this] meeting each year on a university campus,” Chief Hecht said. Judges meet with the press to discuss court-related topics off the record. “The goal is not to resolve differences that are mostly endemic to each other’s operations, but to build understandings. The meeting is always regarded as beneficial by all participants.”


Opinion/Fraser: Rhode Island's do-it-yourself justice system

Of the 39,354 Rhode Island criminal cases resolved in 2019, according to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), only 36 were decided by a jury trial. Instead of forcing the state to prove their guilt in a courtroom, criminally charged Rhode Islanders chose to convict themselves.


Louisiana Judge Yvette Alexander sworn in as president of the American Judges Association

The American Judges Association is an organization of judges. AJA is an independent, non-profit organization housed at the National Center for State Courts, and addresses concerns of interest to all judges. According to its website, AJA works to promote and improve the effective administration of justice and maintains the status and independence of the judiciary by acting to assure that courts: always have due process, are fair, are just, and accessible to all. AJA has strong ties with major judicial organizations, a  commitment to enhancing diversity, and provides the highest quality of continuing professional development for judges. It provides multiple models for peer mentoring for judicial colleagues and a variety of platforms and strategies for the exchange of new ideas among all judges while encouraging the role of judges as teachers.


KY Supreme Court Justice Minton inducted into UK law college hall of fame, won’t seek another term

In July 2017, Chief Justice Minton completed a one-year term as president of the Conference of Chief Justices and chair of the National Center for State Courts Board of Directors. He was the first chief justice from Kentucky to hold this post in nearly 25 years. He was appointed to the State Justice Institute Board of Directors in 2016 and currently serves as board chair. SJI is a federal nonprofit corporation that awards grants to improve the quality of justice in state courts.


EDVA announces over $33 million in Justice Department grants to assist victims of sexual assault and domestic violence

The recipients of the OVW grants in EDVA include state government entities that provide services throughout the Commonwealth, such as the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and the Judiciary Courts of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and non-governmental organizations that provide technical training and assistance nationwide, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Center for State Courts, and the National Center for Victims of Crime. Additional grant recipients include local government entities in EDVA, such as Arlington, Fairfax, James City, Loudoun, and Spotsylvania County, and the City of Norfolk, along with the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe.


Texas law says jury panels must be chosen randomly. A Brazoria County official had a different idea.

In additional to potentially violating state law, Rhonda Barchak’s system appears to differ from her own jury plan, which she submitted to the Brazoria County Commissioners’ Court for approval in 2018. The approved plan stipulated that the district clerk would “randomly select panels of prospective jurors.” Paula Hannaford, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts in Virginia, said Barchak would likely have needed specific authorization to diverge from the standard randomization process. “Without having a very explicit statutory or court authorization for doing that, it strikes me as being legally problematic.”


Your honor, you’re muted: Colorado eyes the future of virtual court

State courts in Alaska, Massachusetts, Florida, Idaho, Indiana and Iowa have all issued some statewide rules on what proceedings can and can’t be done virtually, according to the National Center for State Courts. In the summer of 2020, the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators, which represent state courts in all 50 states, declared that courts should adopt “remote-first or remote-friendly” approaches.


Los Angeles County’s journey to the hybrid courtroom

During the recent National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Court Technology Conference 2021, Snorri Ogata, chief information officer for the Los Angeles County Superior Court, shared the county’s journey outfitting courtrooms for hybrid sessions, trying in-house and commercial conferencing platforms and responding to unanticipated equity issues.


Louisiana justice commission looks to overhaul court costs next legislative session

Creating a uniform system of charges is a commission priority, as court costs for identical items often vary based on location. Louisiana Representative Tanner Magee directed members to review cost-related recommendations from the National Center for State Courts before the commission’s next meeting Nov. 1. Magee added the Louisiana Legislative Auditor has been gathering financial information from local jurisdictions across the state, which will be used to develop final cost determinations and future funding proposals.


Britney Spears gets free of father’s conservatorship – but many others remain shackled by the easily abused legal arrangement

The National Center for State Courts estimated in 2016 that 1.3 million adults in the U.S. are subject to some kind of conservatorship – representing about $50 billion in assets – but a previous report suggested the number of cases could be more than double that.


COVID forced courts virtual – should any stay that way?

For Arizona’s Pima County Family Drug Court (FDC) program, moving to Microsoft Teams-based hearings not only allowed personnel to continue supporting parents, but also to serve more and different participants than they had pre-pandemic, case and recovery specialists said during a recent conversation convened by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).


Senate committees look for solutions to improve guardianship, conservatorship systems

David Slayton, vice president of Court Consulting Services for the National Center for State Courts, said that some of the practices involved in guardianship neither honor nor protect elderly or disabled individuals. He urged the federal government to assist the state courts in correcting harmful practices to improve the management and outcome of guardianships.


Risk assessment algorithms can unfairly impact court decisions

The tools only provide information — they don’t tell judges what to do with it, Kelly Roberts Freeman, senior court research associate at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), told Government Technology.


Tyler Technologies to serve small Texas counties with court Case Manager and Insights solution

Odyssey Case Manager will track all aspects of court administration, from e-filing through disposition, as well as manage a court’s highly sensitive court case data. In addition to creating court dockets, the solution also calculates fees, fines, and distributes payments automatically to keep a courtroom running smoothly. The addition of Court Insights will allow court staff to evaluate its performance using standardized metrics developed by the National Center for State Courts, such as gauging the average time to disposition of cases and determining trial date certainty. Data will be displayed in an easy-to-understand dashboard that can be updated in real time.


Online dispute resolution promises to increase access to justice, but challenges remain

According to the National Center for State Courts, this country’s first court-connected ODR system did not launch until 2014, which is when the 14A District Court in Washtenaw County, Michigan, began piloting a platform to resolve certain traffic offenses. Its system was developed by Michigan-based Court Innovations Inc., which calls its ODR platform Matterhorn and was founded by University of Michigan law professor J.J. Prescott.


Interpreters ensure everyone gets day in court in Northwest Arkansas

The National Center for State Courts does have a certification test for Marshallese but has no one to score it, court translator Terry Davis continued. "For many languages, there's not even a test," she said. "Each state has to make allowances."


Reporter's Notebook: As a juror in a criminal trial, I had to see the world differently

For jurors that serve on more traumatic cases, there’s not a standard system in place across the US to provide counseling or other types of support to jurors. Gregory Mize, a retired judge who now works with the National Center for State Courts, says certain jurisdictions are now establishing support systems for jurors.


Requiring vaccinated jurors could affect fairness of trials

Back in May the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts and the National Center for State Courts advised that jurors could be asked about their vaccination status. And there’s no constitutional issue with eliminating unvaccinated jurors, because it’s not an attempt to keep people off a jury due to their race, gender, religion or other protected category. But juries are supposed to be representative of the larger community, and eliminating a group of people who share a particular characteristic, like vaccination status, could result in less representative panels.


State Judicial Department seeks to fill 32 vacancies on judge nomination panels

According to the National Center for State Courts, Colorado is one of 12 states that uses a commission to select judicial finalists, followed by an appointment from the governor and a retention election. Other states, by contrast, elect judges on a partisan or nonpartisan basis, or require legislative confirmation of judges.


Arkansas judges, prosecutors seeking 3% pay bump

"We will continue to be losing senior judges from our ranks, and we've got to have something for which lawyers are trying to actually give up their practice to go out and try to become a circuit judge, and if the salaries don't remain competitive then I think it's going to be very hard to get the kind of judges that you're going to be looking for," Singleton told the commission. Judicial salaries in Arkansas generally fall in the middle when compared with those nationally, according to a July 2021 survey by the National Center for State Courts.


Monroe County leans on eviction diversion, with moratorium being a 'changing, moving target'

In July, President Joe Biden's administration announced it would allow the pandemic eviction moratorium, which halted evictions of qualified tenants for non-payment, to expire at the end of that month. Monroe County Circuit Judge Catherine Stafford said the court was told to expect this; even more, they were instructed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for State Courts to create their own local program to assist eviction proceedings.


Growing population impact on courts, city

“As it sits right now, the [Cleveland] County commissioners have told us as they look at expanding the county office or renovating and reallocating — they definitely are willing to allocate additional space, should we need it.” According to the National Center for State Courts research, a benchmark ratio of population per judge is 13,000 to 15,000 residents.


New Access-to-Justice class helps students enact changes in Civil law

After a year of planning, Assistant Professor of Government Alyx Mark partnered with a civil justice funder, a national civil justice advocacy organization, and a local provider of legal services to offer students practical opportunities to wrestle with systemic issues. Mark also recruited a subject-matter expert, Zach Zarnow of the National Center for State Courts, to provide students with a practitioner’s perspective in their weekly meetings. Mark published her thoughts on the project recently in ABA Journal.


CT divorce court's new system: is it easier one size fits all?

Pathways to Resolution, launched this year, “was developed with the help of the National Center for State Courts based on research and experience in other states,” said Melissa Farley, spokeswoman for the state judicial branch.


Kinston treatment center changing how justice system treats behavior health nationwide

“Within the last few years we have seen a decrease in usage, also we’ve seen an increase in folks coming to access treatment,” Dr. Harrell said. That partnership caught the eye of the Rural Justice Collaborative, a new undertaking from Rulo Strategies and the National Center for State Courts.


Shenandoah County supervisors hear pitch to establish a drug treatment court

Drug treatment court programs are also known cost-savers, Coyne pointed out, citing a 2012 cost-benefit analysis done by the National Center for State Courts that determined that “lower outcome and victimization costs, along with lower placement costs,” result in average savings of $19,234 per drug court participant relative to the cost of doing “business as usual.”


With federal moratorium expiring , states and localities must step up

Between the new federal funds and new resources and research from groups like the National Center for State Courts, the Urban Institute and Harvard's Dispute Systems Design Clinic, to name a few, it has never been easier to rethink how courts handle landlord-tenant disputes and move towards a new model with better outcomes for both groups.


Suttell to lead U.S. court organizations

The National Center for State Courts has announced that Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul A. Suttell will for the next year chair the center’s board of directors while also serving as president of the national Conference of Chief Justices.


Jeff Shorba, Minnesota State Court Administrator, to lead two national court organizations

Minnesota State Court Administrator Jeff Shorba has been named president of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) and vice chair of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Board of Directors. Both one-year terms began this week during COSCA’s annual conference and NCSC’s Board of Directors meetings in Williamsburg.


Ohio Supreme Court receives national civics award

“I am always thrilled when our staff is recognized for their diligent work and achievements,” said Chief Justice O’Connor, who accepted the award at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) in Williamsburg, Virginia.


Louisville Court Chaos Leaves Some Unaware They're Missing Court Dates

Large courts across the country are also dealing with case backlogs and staffing shortages, said Bill Raftery, an analyst with the National Center for State Courts. And as courts begin to dig out from the last year, mistakes are likely being made, he said. “That’s hard for people to hear, but it’s true,” he said. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”


Opinion/Commentary: Conservatorships like Britney's can lead to abuse

The National Center for State Courts estimated in 2016 that 1.3 million adults in the U.S. are subject to some kind of conservatorship —– representing about $50 billion in assets — but a previous report suggested the number of cases could be more than double that.


Britney Spears case puts renewed focus on guardianships and less restrictive alternatives

Guardianship is a legal relationship between a competent adult (the "guardian") and a person who because of incapacity is no longer able to take care of his or her own affairs (the "ward"). The guardian can be authorized to make legal, financial, and health care decisions for the ward. The National Center for State Courts says that about 1.3 million adults are living under guardianships or conservatorships with some $50 billion in assets.


Innovation Initiative's Family Law Task Force submits recommendations to Supreme Court

The task force’s final report, submitted to the Innovation Initiative in March, includes research from the National Center for State Courts, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators.


"Justice Delayed is Justice Denied": Historically high criminal case backlog in Harris County

For instance, according to the National Center for State Courts’ Model Time Standards, 98% of cases in County Criminal Courts should be disposed of within 180 days of filing or arrest, and 98% of cases in District Criminal Courts should be disposed of within 365 days of filing or arrest.


Why conservatorships like the one controlling Britney Spears can lead to abuse

The National Center for State Courts estimated in 2016 that 1.3 million adults in the U.S. are subject to some kind of conservatorship – representing about $50 billion in assets – but a previous report suggested the number of cases could be more than double that.


Mohave County Supervisors to receive budget report from MSCO

The board will consider accepting $10,000 from the National Center for State Courts to support a pilot project for remote jury selection. The project would look at the impact access to internet-enabled devices has on the jury process.


Senators eye greater scrutiny of guardianships

The senators cite data in their letter from the National Center for State Courts indicating that about 1.3 million adults are living under guardianships or conservatorships with some $50 billion in assets. But, they say that the estimates are unreliable since guardianship is handled at the state level and practices vary such that “in many states, it is impossible to identify the number of active guardianship cases.”


ODR to present "Mediation and Mental Health: Promoting the Well-Being of Disputants" webinars

The ODR is preparing to air a series of three national webinars entitled “Mediation and Mental Health: Promoting the Well-Being of Disputants.” The series is being funded by the State Justice Institute with collaboration and assistance from the National Center for State Courts.


'More art' than science: Incapacity findings prone to abuse

An estimated 1.3 million adults and about $50 billion in assets are under the control of guardians, according to the National Center for State Courts. And while exact national statistics on guardianship and abuse are hard to come by, older adults are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation, according to data from the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System, a federal abuse tracker.


Mark Ballard: Whopping 30% collection fees? A task force looks at Louisiana's court system

In Florida, the counties were so unevenly funded in the 1990s that a judge collected leftover pens to give to trial courts in “have not” counties, according to a National Center for State Courts draft report commissioned by a Louisiana task force.


Reprimand of judges for social media misconduct warrants updated guidelines, experts say

The Center for Judicial Ethics at the National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the judiciary, has examined cases in which judges were rebuked for expressing views on controversial topics or endorsing political candidates. Some of the judges used private accounts, while others did not attempt to hide their judicial affiliations.


Criminal justice reforms in Virginia prompt debate over how prosecutors are funded by the state

The 15-month study, to be conducted by the National Center for State Courts, will become the foundation for any changes made to the funding formula — either by the state Compensation Board or the General Assembly, in the form of new legislation.


Fact-check: Jury's in on Lightfoot claim that Cook County criminal courts are 'shut down' - because, well, juries are in

What’s more, jury trials make up a small fraction of a court’s work. A recent study by the National Center for State Courts found 92% of the felony cases it reviewed were resolved through guilty pleas or dismissals. In Cook County, only 10% of all cases that did go to trial in 2019 went to a jury rather than a bench trial, according to an April press release from Evans.


Exclusive: Elizabeth Warren, Bob Casey ask for data on conservatorships after Britney Spears's testimony

The National Center for State Courts estimates there are 1.3 million adults under guardianship in the U.S. and that their guardians control about $50 billion in assets. But Warren and Casey’s letter notes that this data is incomplete, which makes it difficult for the government to track disparities in guardianship, determine whether the rates of guardianship are increasing, address abuses in the system or make policy recommendations.


Gov. Mike DeWine signs bill creating partisan races for state's top court

Ohio was the only state where judicial candidates run in partisan primaries and nonpartisan general elections. Now it will be one of seven states that elect judges for its higher courts in partisan elections, according to the National Center for State Courts.


Britney Spears's case leads 2 senators to question the country's conservatorship systems.

The National Center for State Courts estimates that there are 1.3 million active conservatorships in the United States overseeing at least $50 billion in assets, but the group notes that the estimate is based on a “handful” of states that provide reasonably reliable data on conservatorships. Each state manages its own system of conservatorship, and data collection varies widely from state to state.


Britney Spears' testimony spurs lawmakers to question federal guardianship data

In their correspondence, the senators point to National Center for State Courts estimates that 1.3 million adults currently live under this legal mechanism—and their guardians control around $50 billion in assets. But those estimates don’t paint the whole picture, they said, as many states don’t have centralized systems to gather this data. The senators provided examples of challenges that accompany this information collection.


Judicial Compensation Commission to review 3.5% salary increase for judges

The Office of the Courts states that in previous reports the commission determined that increased salaries are needed to help recruit and retain judges in New Mexico. The Office cites an annual survey by the National Center for State Courts that reports New Mexico judges are among the lowest paid in the nation.


CDC extends eviction moratorium a month

She references steps made by state courts in Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania and directs state courts to an online assessment tool designed by the National Center for State Courts to help jurisdictions determine the most appropriate model.


Will Britney Spears' dramatic testimony affect other cases, laws on conservatorship?

A 2013 AARP report put the “best guess” estimate of people in conservatorships nationally at 1.5 million. A 2011 study by the National Center for State Courts estimated the number nationally could range from less than 1 million to as high as 3 million.


FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris administration announces initiatives to promote housing stability by supporting vulnerable tenants and preventing foreclosures

The Justice Department letter points to actions that courts can implement immediately to help confront this problem. The letter also directs courts to federal resources they can use to support diversion programs and to tools developed by the National Center for State Courts that can help judges ensure landlords and tenants have an opportunity to tap into available resources and mediate their dispute.


Iowa Supreme Court boots FY22 budget 4.7%; courts to add four judges, 17 clerks

According to workload formulas developed by the National Center for State Courts, Iowa needs 10 additional district judge positions and 20 additional district associate judge positions to manage the current judicial branch workload


Biden extends nationwide ban on evictions for another month, but says it's last time

She references steps made by state courts in Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania and directs state courts to an online assessment tool designed by the National Center for State Courts to help jurisdictions determine the most appropriate model.


Iowa Supreme Court approves FY 2022 budget

According to the workload formulas developed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), Iowans need 10 additional district judge positions and 20 additional district associate judge positions to manage the current judicial branch workload. Two district associate judges will be appointed in October 2021, one for the central and one for the eastern sections of the state, and two more in January 2022, one for the southwestern and one for the eastern portions of the state.


User feedback is key to running virtual diversion programs

In collaboration with the National Center for State Courts and Wayne State University, my firm recently conducted a large-scale, national examination of virtual practices. We initiated the study in fall 2020, six months after virtual services became common practice in judicially led diversion programs around the U.S.


County moves closer to buying mall space

The commissioners should be enlisting the National Center for State Courts “to come and see the space, make recommendations,” she said. “Based on the uniqueness of this (mall) location for a court, I think we need to have some security experts involved.


Hennepin County defense attorneys push for more diverse jury pools

"All jurisdictions across the country are much more attuned since last year about systemic racism and justice inequality," said Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va.


23 complete court manager program

The graduation ceremony closed the 2-year Court Management Program for the class of 2021. The program, available through the Institute for Court Management of the National Center for State Courts and the North Dakota Supreme Court, includes six modules that address topics pertaining to the management of courts as organizations.  Upon completion, participants receive the designation of certified court manager.


The International Symposium on "Excellence in High Courts of Appeal" held

The international symposium on “Excellence in High Courts of Appeal” was held online on 4 June 2021 with a view to exchanging international knowledge and experience and elaborating on excellence in high courts of appeal. The event brought together views from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) of the United States of America, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), the International Consortium for Court Excellence and the National High Court of Spain with an aim at enriching knowledge among Turkish judicial professionals and the Turkish Court of Cassation.


Jury trials are restarting in Lehigh County, and there's a greater chance you'll be called. Here's what you need to know

According to the National Center for State Courts, restricting jury pools to persons who are fully vaccinated may make it more difficult to secure enough prospective jurors. Along with COVID’s higher impact on people of color, public health experts have noted ongoing challenges in getting the vaccine out to certain communities.


High fees could hurt public access as Maine court records go digital

Jim McMillan is the principal court management consultant at the National Center for State Courts, a Virginia nonprofit that provides support to courts across the country. He did not speak directly to the contract in Maine but said fees are often necessary to cover operating costs, especially if lawmakers like those in Maine have not dedicated enough money for a project.


'It is inadequate': Delaware launches new effort to diversify judges and lawyers

The project will get help from the National Center for State Courts, a group that helps local courts with strategic planning, diversity and community engagement, and justice system reform. The state will also team up with the AccessLex Institute, a West Chester-based nonprofit linking more than 200 law schools around the country.


Del. Courts unveil diversity initiative

Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins Seitz Junior Monday announced the Delaware Bench and Bar Diversity Project. A steering committee of judicial officers, individuals and organizations will lead efforts to build and sustain a more diverse bench and bar. The project was launched in collaboration with the National Center for State Courts and Access Lex Institute.


Ballrooms become courtrooms to get jury trials moving

Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts, said stadiums have been used in the past for complex cases with hundreds of lawyers, witnesses and other participants.


Bench and Bar Diversity Project announced

This project, launched in collaboration with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and AccessLex Institute, will be led by a steering committee composed of judicial officers, individuals, and organizations working to build and sustain a more diverse Delaware bench and bar.


A promising path to increase access to justice

Just a few weeks later, and prior to the completion of a National Center for State Courts evaluation of the program, the court voted to stop licensing new technicians.


Eugene Community Court gives offenders opportunity to learn, improve while reducing offenses

In April, a nationwide study by the National Center for State Courts found that graduates of Eugene Community Court were less likely to be arrested or convicted of crimes than those who did not participate in the program.


Who pays if Kansas doesn’t fund its court system adequately? You, eventually

Like any employer, the state of Kansas must provide competitive and comparable wages to retain and recruit all its employees. Judicial employee pay has stagnated. According to a July 2020 National Center for State Courts survey, salaries for our district court judges ranks 48th out of all 50 states, and are not comparable to any of our neighboring states.


Court backlog leaves hundreds of people in Cook County Jail for more than a year

According to the nonprofit National Center for State Courts, a nonpartisan research organization focused on court efficiency, 90% of felony cases should be resolved within six months.


Court closures because of COVID-19 lead to backlog of jury trials in Livingston County

Michigan had a 99% resolution rate for cases in 2019, according to data from the National Center for State Courts. Data indicates 2020's rate is nowhere close to that at less than 40%.


Ohio Supreme Court’s Civic Education Program named 2021 Sandra Day O’Connor Award recipient

The Civic Education Program of the Ohio Supreme Court is the recipient of the 2021 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education, presented annually by the National Center for State Courts.


Three Village 5th-grader places In national essay contest

Holden Cone, a fifth-grader at Minnesauke Elementary School, was named the third-place winner in the elementary school category for the National Center for State Courts' 2021 Civics Education Essay Contest, the Three Village Central School District announced.


Pandemic redefines 'public' access to government meetings

“If tomorrow COVID were cured, would we still continue with virtual hearings? Well, probably, yeah,” said Bill Raftery, a senior analyst at the National Center for State Courts.


Expansive NY bill to expunge criminal records gains steam

In New York and in the rest of the country, over 95% of convictions are by guilty pleas, according to data compiled by the federal judiciary and a database maintained by the National Center for State Courts.


Federal pass-through funding for courts supports innovations and equity

Courts can get started with three resources: the Grants Matrix, the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Tiny Chats, and resources from the State Justice Institute (SJI). Thanks to The Pew Charitable Trusts, my project created a Grants Matrix on the NCSC Tiny Chats website.


Public webinars: Public access services available for court users

The Judicial Council and National Center for State Courts will host a series of free public webinars this spring to provide an overview of language access services and multilingual materials available for limited English proficient court users.


House committee reduces price tag of intermediate appeals court bill

“As in the past, we oppose the creation of an intermediate court of appeals as an unnecessary expense for our state both in terms of its effect on litigants and its effect on the expenditures of our state’s finances,” Majestro said. “The National Center for State Courts has affirmed that the automatic right of appeal exists in West Virginia, so when you hear from others who say we don’t have a right to appeal in West Virginia, they are simply wrong and not telling the truth.”


Covering criminal courts amid COVID-19: 6 tips for journalists

As more U.S. courts introduce such changes — and some courts expand these initiatives — journalists need to understand how they will influence legal processes and affect criminal defendants’ civil rights. We asked experts at the National Center for State Courts, an independent research organization focused on the state judiciary, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, an organization aimed at correcting flaws and inequities in the criminal justice system, what journalists should know and do when covering these issues.


Tunisia: Five procedures manuals published to facilitate access to courts

The manuals are published in collaboration with the National Center for State Courts (NSCS) and the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), with funding from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the source added.


Collaborative begins study of 'best practices' in rural justice reform

“We’re going to find the best of the best and develop a framework so other courts and communities can model them,” said Kristina Bryant, the National Center for State Courts RJC project director.


Arizona Supreme Court task force refocuses on disinformation

The National Center for State Courts laid the groundwork for that kind of playbook to help state courts develop rapid response plans before “any attack landed on the front steps of the courthouse,” the center’s spokesman Jesse Rutledge said.


Iowa Capitol Digest for Thursday, February 25

The National Center for State Courts has renamed the Family Justice Reform Initiative in honor of the late Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady, who died in November 2019, two months after he delivered the keynote address at the National Judicial Leadership Summit on the Protection of Children.


'I want this over': For Victims and the accused, justice is delayed as COVID-19 snarls courts

Today, even in jurisdictions where in-person proceedings have resumed, limits on how many people can be in a courtroom at the same time for things like jury selection continue to slow the system. “We’re in sort of this holding period,” says Paula Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC).


As some jury trials resume, juror shortages create problems; one court sees a 5% yield on summonses

Top state courts in Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina and Massachusetts have lifted suspension on jury trials, according to information from the National Center for State Courts cited by Bloomberg Law. Other states, including California and Florida, allow local courts to decide whether to have trials.


Justice delayed: Alabama's court system bogged down with COVID jury trial backlog

According to the National Center for State Courts, restricting or ending jury trials is among five of the most common efforts to combat coronavirus and keep the wheels of justice churning. Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hayes Webb said his office closed their February docket because 12 employees were in quarantine. Webb said court last took place in December.


US Embassy and Judiciary partner on new case management system for local Courts

The project is also receiving support from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. It will be implemented by the National Center for State Courts.


Iowa court system seeks $9 million to address delays

According to the workload formula developed by the National Center for State Courts, 17 additional clerks are needed statewide at an additional cost of $1 million to process the current overall workload.


Pandemic slows justice in Idaho and around the Mountain West

Depending on the state, certain kinds of trials are still required to happen in person, like jury trials. According to the National Center for State Courts, Idaho jury trials were delayed 297 days between last March and this January. Similarly, New Mexico faced delays for 290 days.


Missouri Chief Justice George W. Draper III delivers 2021 State of the Judiciary

With respect to our criminal justice system, we held an initial leadership summit in late February 2020. We had planned to present a series of “Leading Change in Criminal Justice” follow-up meetings with assistance from the Missouri Justice Reinvestment Initiative, the National Center for State Courts, and the State Judicial Institute.


Texas courts hit 1 million Zoom hearings milestone

Those months of testimony were piped in from witnesses' kitchens and living rooms with attorneys double-checking their mute status as part of official efforts to run a court system while keeping people safe during a pandemic.Texas is the national leader in remote hearings, said Jesse Rutledge, a spokesperson with the National Center for State Courts.


Global litigation funding investment market to cross USD 13 Billion in 2021

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), a government body that focuses on improving the judicial administration in the United States, took initiatives to combat the coronavirus disease where the state courts granted extensions for court deadlines and further suspended in-person proceedings. Moreover, third party funding during the pandemic is providing more appealing benefits to litigants, thereby creating attractive opportunities for the litigation financing companies.


Pandemic has had a significant impact on Kansas courts

According to a July 2020 judicial salary survey conducted by the National Center for State Courts, Kansas district judge pay ranks 48 out of 50 states in both actual pay and when adjusted for cost of living.


Courts attempt to balance innovation with access in remote proceedings

Last year, a majority of states allowed virtual hearings. New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, New Mexico and Alaska mandated their use. Others, including New York, California and Texas, have urged their use while suspending conflicting rules, according to the National Center for State Courts.


Quality metrics for regulatory reform

Our goal is to offer states jurisdiction-agnostic metrics that help regulators and innovators understand and compare impacts along the same set of standards—comparing apples to apples. We are still in the process of exploring which metrics can and should be used, but our process involves learning, revising, iterating, and reviewing with the help of experts already doing this work—groups like the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, the National Center for State Courts, and other industry leaders.


Pilot program will bring Online Dispute Resolution option to Manhattan Small Claims litigants, NY court leaders say

The pilot is funded by the State Justice Institute and the American Arbitration Association-International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation. In a statement, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks said he was grateful for both organizations’ assistance, along with the “input and collaboration” of the American Bar Association, the National Center for State Courts and the New York State Community Dispute Resolution Centers.


Orgs enter Utah 'sandbox' trying to reshape legal industry

Several studies have shown many Americans get little to no help for their legal problems. A 2015 report from the National Center for State Courts found that at least one party was self-representing themselves in 76% of civil cases in 10 major urban counties.


Iowa courts look to cast a wider net to find potential jurors

The information provided will not include the financial information of the taxpayer and will be limited to the same fields of information provided by other sources. According to information provided by the National Center for State Courts, as of December 2019 data, there were 18 other states using taxpayer information for jury source lists.


South Dakota's new chief justice asks for judge's raises, more court staff in first address

A committee chaired by Justice Janine Kern that polled judges around the state about current security measures recommended the state develop a plan for security. The National Center for State Courts has agreed to help consult to develop that plan, Jensen said. The new UJS hire would come in Fiscal Year 2022 after the security study.


Pa. House panel to vote GOP-backed plan to elect judges by zone

Four states vote for high court judges by district to a first term, according to the National Center for State Courts. The other 18 states where voters elect high court justices hold statewide contests.


Arizona moves ahead with virtual court system overhaul

From a judicial perspective, Dave Byers, director of the administrative office of the Arizona Courts, said, “Our courts are associated with the National Center for State Courts. Within the organization, its joint technology committee conducted a study around two to three years ago that focused on what courts are going to do as the amount of digital evidence continues to increase.”


Virtual courtrooms prove to be both curse and blessing

And Danielle Hirsch, a principal court management consultant with the National Center for State Courts, told Law360 she doesn't think courts have slowed down, saying many court systems in states such as Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Texas may have actually had more hearings during the pandemic.


'Things will get worse,' Fauci warns, as U.S. hits a new daily record

California, Florida and most other states have no statewide public health orders in place barring jury trials, leaving the issue to be determined locally based on local conditions, according to the National Center for State Courts.


Sugar Land court administrators earn statewide honors

A Dec. 30 news release from the city said the Texas Court Clerks Association (TCCA) had selected Municipal Court Administrator Kendra Beverly as the recipient of the 2020 Distinguished Service Award. Beverly and Deputy Court Administrator Brittany Wright were also recognized as Certified Court Managers by the National Center for State Courts’ Institute for Court Management (ICM).


Jury trials are being put back on hold because of COVID-19 spikes

But by late summer and early fall, most courts had resumed in-person jury trials on a limited basis, (Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts director Paula Hannaford-Agor said). Many required masks and temperature checks; some installed plexiglass barriers and reconfigured courtrooms and jury assembly rooms to allow for social distancing.


Chief Justice Roberts praises judiciary for post-pandemic performance

Roberts also highlighted state courts, which he described as “responsible for the vast bulk of judicial proceedings across the nation,” for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an example, he said the National Center for State Courts gave its 2020 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence to a judge who conducted the first remote jury trial in May.