Supporting the Nation's Judicial System & the Public it Serves

Training, Education, and Workforce Development

State courts require a workforce that is adaptable to public demands for services.  SJI supports projects that focus on the tools needed to enable judges, court managers, and staff to lead their courts in future reform efforts.

Judicial Education Series: Historical Roots of Racism & its Contribution to our Current Juvenile Legal System

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is working with the NJDC Judicial Council to develop a program that explores the legacy of racism in America and how it has shaped the juvenile legal system. NJDC will also work in collaboration with the National Council of Juvenile Court and Family Judges (NCJFCJ) to implement this project.  The audience for this program is a select number of juvenile court judges who apply to participate and will comprise the Judicial Racial Justice Network (JRJN).   JRJN members will participate in virtual programming led by peer judges and experts to develop strategies that counteract systemic biases in their courtrooms and communities. At the conclusion of the project, JRJN members will serve as ambassadors for racial justice in the juvenile legal system community to invoke sustainable positive change that will benefit the lives of Black children.

Opioids and Children in State Courts

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR), the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), and The National Judicial College (NJC) have developed a collaboration to assist state courts in addressing the impact of opioids on children.  The collaboration focuses on both provision of technical assistance as well as education and training. 

The NCSC continues to work on addressing the impact of the opioid epidemic on children and families, particularly the impact on the foster care system.  That work has included working to identify promising and best practices to pilot in state and local courts that will improve outcomes for children impacted by the opioid epidemic, such as:

  • Infusing Family Treatment Court Core Principles to All Dependency Cases.
  • Expanding the Blueprint Framework. 
  • Courts partnering with the medical community to address the needs of pregnant women with opioid use disorder and infants born substance exposed. 

In FY 2019, SJI partnered with The U.S. Department of Justice/Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to provide funding to 8 rural demonstration sites to address the opioid crisis.  SJI funding is encouraging the sites to include the state courts in their work and enable courts to have the resources they need to contribute to the overall objectives of each demonstration site.  IIR is providing the technical assistance for this initiative.

To address the impact of opioids on children in state courts, BJA and IIR are partnering with SJI to support intensive training and technical assistance effort designed to assist local courts and their stakeholders in strongly aligning existing opioid initiatives in their communities, and developing comprehensive and multidisciplinary approaches to more effectively respond to Opioid Use Disorders (OUD) and other emerging drug threats.

BJA and IIR are also partnering with SJI to convene experts and stakeholders from across the United States in the fields of courts, child welfare, schools and law enforcement to discuss the impact of the opioid epidemic on children and families, and to discuss best practices and opportunities for collaboration across disciplines. 

 In FY 2020, the NCJFCJ is hosting two regional summits for interested court jurisdictions who are currently impacted by the opioid epidemic.  During each of the two-day summits, participants will learn from experts, discuss best practices in handling opioid related cases and develop action plans to implement when returning to their local jurisdiction that address the unique needs of children and families impacted by opioid misuse.

NCJFCJ will host two national webinars that will examine “Innovative Practices in Handling Opioid Related Cases” and “Lessons Learned from Regional Opioid Summit Courts.” These interactive virtual learning opportunities will be open to courts across the nation and participants will be given the opportunity to ask questions of expert presenters and learn from other participants. 

The NCJFJC will collaborate on specific deliverables with the NJC: 1) Webinars as a Series on Opioid Use Disorder and the Courts: Protecting Children and Supporting Families; and 2) Four course inserts built into NJC’s General Jurisdiction Course.  NJC will convene a curriculum advisory group to select the topics, faculty and additional resources.

Human Trafficking Victims: Developing Training and Tools for Courts

The National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP) at the American University/Washington College of Law  is developing materials on human trafficking, providing technical assistance, and offering pilot trainings for state court judges and judicial employees on human trafficking and the T Visa.  The project provides judges and court staff with the tools and training they need so that when they encounter an immigrant involved in a court proceeding who may be a victim of human trafficking, the judge knows how to handle these cases.  NIWAP is also creating a National Judicial Network, which will serve as a forum that will engage judges in learning from each other and from experts about best practices and legal issues that arise in cases of human trafficking victims and immigrant victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking and sexual assault.

Justice for All: Courts at the Crossroads: Facing Pandemic and Racial Justice Challenges

The National Association for Court Management (NACM) is developing and delivering nationally significant educational programs, related material and curriculum with continued focus on SJI Priority Investment Areas and the NACM Core®, and expanding and broadening remote technology through live and recorded distance learning opportunities to members and NACM’s justice partners.   This is accomplished through digital recording and live streaming of NACM’s Annual conference to be held July 11-15, 2021, in San Diego, California, and through webinars, podcasts, and guides from January through June. NACM will live stream multiple plenary and breakout sessions at the annual conference and will record the other educational opportunities. These digital recordings will be posted to NACM’s website and on NACM’s video channel. NACM will also publish summaries from many of the educational programs in its fall edition of the Court Manager. All of these materials will be made available on NACM’s website at Finally, NACM will develop themes and descriptions for its 2022 Midyear and Annual conferences.

Evaluation of Two Statewide Virtual Mediation Services Administered through Local Dispute Resolution Centers and E-Learning Faculty Development Model

The Michigan Supreme Court and State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) will evaluate two statewide virtual mediation services administered through local dispute resolution centers; and develop, pilot, and institutionalize an e-Learning Faculty Development Model.

The SCAO/Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) provides two statewide virtual mediation programs, which are administered through Local Dispute Resolution Centers.  The services include: 1) the MI-Resolve online platform; and 2) online Zoom mediation.  Both programs manage court referrals of small claims, landlord/tenant (including eviction), and general civil cases, and are administered through a statewide network of 17 Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP) centers.  The evaluation will empirically demonstrate the effectiveness and national replicability of these two mediation programs. 

The project will also enable the Michigan Judicial Institute (MJI) to identify court personnel to serve as volunteer faculty for peer judicial education sessions delivered through virtual platforms.  The “train-the-trainer” curriculum will be structured as a virtual workshop, and introduce the core components of active learning using interactive lectures.  This will include model learner engagement activities, and teaching workshop participants on how to use virtual conference platform tools to create their own virtual sessions.