Catching convincing AI-fabricated evidence is still a work in progress, but courts could benefit from thinking now about how they might confront the challenges posed by the emerging technology. National Center for State Courts Principal Court Management Consultant Jannet Okazaki and Data Scientist Andre Assumpcao emphasized the need for courts to adapt to this new threat during the recent Court Technology Conference in Phoenix.
The Douglas County District Court has received a National Center for State Courts Eviction Diversion Initiative grant to implement new strategies and alternatives to the traditional eviction track. The county was selected through a competitive application process, along with courts from Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Washington.
A little more than a year after Lawrence Township’s small claims court received a $500,000 grant from the National Center for State Courts to launch a pilot program to reduce evictions, court records show out of nearly 1,100 eviction filings between Jan. 1 and May 31 of this year, 979 were dismissed, nearly 90 percent. Samira Nazem, an NCSC principal court management consultant, said while the organization doesn’t yet have hard data it can share, anecdotal evidence from other courts participating in the pilot program suggests similar results elsewhere.
William Raftery, National Center for State Courts senior knowledge and information services analyst, discusses the past, present and future of judicial compensation. Data collected by NCSC's Judicial Salary Survey reveals that while state legislatures (with the exception of Arkansas) maintain overall control over judicial salaries, the mechanisms used to set those salaries varies widely.
A recent study commissioned by the Maine Judicial Branch finds that the state's trial courts need at least nine more judges and 53 additional clerks to keep up with their existing caseload. Those resources are on top of whatever overtime or other staff may be needed to tackle a daunting case backlog created during the pandemic, according to the report from the National Center for State Courts.
Detroit's housing court has resumed in-person hearings for the first time since Covid forced them online. The move has housing advocates fearing that evictions will spike for tenants who can't take time off work or find child care. Samira Nazem, who leads an eviction diversion initiative for the National Center for State Courts, discusses changes in housing courts that reach beyond online hearings. "Covid really kind of crystallized for many courts the important role they can play in connecting people to services and resources and that that's not an inappropriate role for courts to play."
A Michigan Supreme Court proposal that would require use of lawyers' and parties' preferred pronouns is dividing judges, with sides weighing competing interests in civility and judicial discretion to manage courtrooms. This diversity of opinion is a microcosm of a broader nationwide discussion where states are generally moving to have more inclusive rules, said Andy Wirkus, a consultant for the National Center for State Courts. "What the issue really comes down to is a matter of accuracy and dignity and respect, and so all Americans feel they can trust the judicial system."
Oklahoma lawmakers have approved an increase to $50 a day, which would tie North Dakota for the highest in the nation, according to a 2022 study from the National Center for State Courts. Increasing the daily pay to jurors, some believe, will improve representation on a jury. "Juror compensation is also a key driver of ensuring that inequities do not impact participation," wrote Brendan Clark in the NCSC report. "Particularly for those already struggling with minimum wage positions, ensuring adequate compensation is critical to their effective participation in the enterprise."
The virtual court proceedings that reshaped the judiciary during Covid-19will outlive the pandemic, as state courts across the country rewrite their rules to incorporate the lessons learned from the crisis. "I look at this moment as an incredible opportunity to concretize some innovations that happened because of the pandemic and to keep up the momentum," said Danielle Hirsch, managing director of Court Consulting Services with the National Center for State Courts. Hybrid hearings are also discussed with Senior Court Management Consultant Lindsay Hafford.
A panel at Stanford Law School’s 2023 CodeX FutureLaw conference discussed how new attitudes, not just new tech, are needed to improve citizens' access to our nation's court system. Panelist Grace Spulak, Senior Court Management Consultant at the National Center for State Courts, noted there are already initiatives underway to get courts more motivated to make these changes. She noted that at their core, courts are not averse to technology. “Courts want to administer justice, and they want to work more efficiently and effectively,” she said, adding that it’s a matter of convincing courts that their actions will actually positively affect this change.
Guest Danielle Hirsch, a managing director of court consulting services at the National Center for State Courts discusses the user experience during remote court proceedings and explores additional possibilities for technological innovation in the courts on the latest episode of LSC’s “Talk Justice” podcast. Talk Justice Co-host Molly McDonough is also joined by guests Jennifer Leitch, executive director of the National Self-Represented Litigants Network in Canada.