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.
A Critical Case Management Tool: Supporting Behavior Transitions
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), in partnership with the Maricopa County Superior Court Family Department (MCSC), is designing and implementing an asynchronous “Behavioral Transition” course for the benefit of MCSC and other courts across the country. The curriculum will focus on early intervention in cases that demonstrate high conflict features; address the behavioral aspects of parties referred to as “high conflict”; provide a much needed and nationally distributed model to benefit other jurisdictions; and build upon the work of the Cady Initiative for Family Justice Reform.
The Good Judge-ment Podcast Training Project
The Good Judge-ment Podcast is an educational programming used to supplement continuing judicial education and initial training for new judges in Georgia courts. The podcast has produced over eighty episodes of 20-45 minutes in duration on a wide range of topics. This project is administratively supported by the Council of Superior Court Judges and sanctioned by the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education for Georgia judges with support from the University of Georgia School of Law. The continuation of this program will supplement and enhance judicial education in the State of Georgia for all classes of courts.
Environmental Law Essentials: Education for Judges
The National Judicial College (NJC) is adapting the existing curriculum created for the course, Environmental Law Essentials for the Judiciary, for use by state courts. NJC will pilot test the adapted curriculum six times (four virtually and two in-person), receive evaluation results and make further revisions to enhance the usefulness of the curriculum. NJC will produce a written report and a sample curriculum for replication in states and disseminate the products nationally.
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.
National Justice and Fairness Training Program and Strategies to Combat Racial Inequality in the Courts and Criminal Justice System
The National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) is developing a national training program for judges at the local, state, and federal level who engage in sentencings and other public encounters with a focus on justice and fairness. The curriculum will be delivered as a pilot to 100 judicial officers at the outset. In addition, at the NAWJ National Conference, an additional 100 judges will be trained through the development and delivery of a train the trainer curriculum. Ten judges will be selected as district instructors who will present localized training. NAWJ’s focus of this project is the racial inequalities that are seen in the criminal justice system especially for women and people of color.
Additionally, NAWJ is developing strategies to implement the curriculum, materials, and train the trainer process at a regional and national level. The goal is to aid and educate the judges about the built-in prejudices that directly influence sentencing in their communities.
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 www.nacmnet.org. Finally, NACM will develop themes and descriptions for its 2022 Midyear and Annual conferences.
E-Learning Faculty Development Model
The Michigan Supreme Court and State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) will develop, pilot, and institutionalize an e-Learning Faculty Development Model. 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.
Providing Access to Justice While Protecting Public Health During a Pandemic
The National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) promotes the judicial role of protecting the rights of individuals under the rule of law through strong, committed, diverse judicial leadership; fairness and equality in the courts; and equal access to justice. NAWJ designed and executed a podcast series on ways to provide access to justice while protecting public health during a pandemic. The NAWJ Podcast Series explores how technology is impacting work within the justice and arbitration systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Bench Card Resource Center
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has created a Bench Card Resource Center. The online resource center serves as a repository for bench cards, checklists, and best practice recommendations that include such topics as: juvenile justice, family violence and domestic relations, child abuse and neglect, racial and ethnic disparities, trauma-informed practices, substance use, and more. The resource center is designed to provide judges and court system professionals with immediate access to resources in a consistent format without requiring PDF downloads. Users are able to navigate to specific bench cards in multiple ways using an advanced search function.
Building a Replicable, Needs-Responsive Coaching Curriculum for Juvenile and Family Court Staff
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFJC) are partnering with the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Family Division, to design and implement a replicable training program and curriculum on juvenile and family court case flow management. The curriculum is designed for judicial officers, court administrators, and staff who are responsible for court calendaring and case management of juvenile and family cases.
The project will result in a curriculum that: 1) meets the Family Division’s staff training needs; 2) contains flexibility for adaptation to changing case flow priorities over time; and 3) provides a foundational model for replication in other jurisdictions. The final curriculum will provide a “train-the-trainers” module so that the Family Division can provide future training on case flow management to current and future staff. The curriculum will be made available online, and other jurisdictions will be encouraged to adapt it for their needs.
Faculty Development Workshop: Designing & Presenting Courses Effectively
The Wisconsin Office of Judicial Education applicant engaged with the National Judicial College (NJC) to present the three-day workshop, Faculty Development Workshop: Designing and Presenting Courses Effectively for 30 judges and court staff who have been identified as future in-state faculty by the Judiciary. The NJC modified the curriculum to meet the specific needs of selected Wisconsin judges and court staff selected to become trainers.
Aid and Assist Summit
The Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) is planning to hold a summit to educate all 36 circuit courts about statutory changes, system issues, best practices, and data collection for criminal defendants who are unable to stand trial by reason of incapacity – known in Oregon as the “aid and assist population.” The Summit will be coordinated and moderated by OJD’s Office of General Counsel, and the Chief Justice’s Behavioral Health Advisory Committee (BHAC). Presenters will include judges, OJD staff, system partners (Oregon Health Authority, OSH, district attorney, defense attorney, certified evaluator, county mental health providers), and one or more individuals with lived experience with behavioral health issues and inability to aid and assist in their own defense. Each circuit will send one judge and one staff who handle their court’s aid and assist docket to attend the Summit.
Designing a New Tier of Civil Legal Professionals for Survivors of Domestic Violence
The Arizona Supreme Court is collaborating with the Innovation for Justice Program at the University of Arizona College of Law, and the State Bar of Arizona, along with Emerge, a provider of domestic abuse prevention programs in Southern Arizona, and together they have designed the LLA certification program to implement a pilot project that will combine the trauma-informed expertise of the lay legal advocate, with legal training specific to domestic violence-related issues, by training and licensing these lay legal advocates as Licensed Legal Advocates (LLA).
The pilot has received the endorsement of the Arizona Supreme Court’s Task Force on Delivery of Legal Services, and the Supreme Court has authorized a temporary exception to the rules prohibiting the unauthorized practice of law. LLAs will serve as a new tier of civil legal service professionals and will be equipped to provide legal advice to DV survivors in a variety of cases, such as protective order, divorce, child custody, consumer protection, and housing.
Connected Courts: Ensuring and Expanding Justice in Our Communities
The National Association for Court Management (NACM) has continued to provide comprehensive educational programs, insightful publications, online forums, and distance learning opportunities to increase the knowledge, skills, abilities, and professionalism of its members and other judicial partners in a virtual environment. NACM has provided digital recording and live streaming of mid-year and annual conferences in 2020 and 2021. The Association live-streamed multiple plenary and breakout sessions at both conferences. Additional webinars were also produced throughout the project. The digital recordings are posted on NACM’s website and on NACM’s YouTube channel. NACM also publishes summaries from all educational programs in its annual conference edition of the Court Manager.
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.
Judicial Conference Training on Bias
In 2019, the Oregon Judicial Department provided the Red Door Project’s Evolve Experience to approximately 200 attendees at their Judicial Conference. The Evolve Experience explores the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color through live-performance monologues by African American individuals who experienced racial profiling alongside the lived experiences of law enforcement officers. Following the performance, participants engage in courageous conversations where they are challenged to connect with their humanity and that of others who are different from them to discover shared values, the possibility of another perspective, and begin to understand what it might feel like to be someone else.
Pre and post training surveys were administered to attendees. The comments and feedback from the surveys will be used to develop a detailed and robust training program addressing bias, racism, prejudice, and fairness for judges and staff, and to provide additional resources.
National Juvenile Justice Transformation Symposium
The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice hosted the Transformation of Youth Justice Symposium and Training Institutes. The Symposium featured five plenaries and 30 workshops focused on current and significant cross-cutting issues impacting the youth-serving field. The supplemental half-day Training Institute sessions focused on six critical topics, that highlighted opportunities and methods to significantly enhance current practice to improve system performance and ensure the highest likelihood of achieving positive outcomes for youth and families.
Judicial Role in Ensuring Fairness and Due Process Rights for Youth
The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) partnered with the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) to develop bench cards and associated judicial education related to Addressing Bias in Delinquency and Child Welfare Systems and Honoring Gault: Ensuring Access to Counsel in Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings.
Peer-to-Peer Coaching for Judicial Officers
The Colorado Judicial Branch is developing a peer-to-peer coaching program (P2P) for judges in Colorado. P2P Coaching promotes a focused one-on-one confidential relationship between a trained judge (coach) and a participant judge. Under the P2P Coaching program, a coach actively listens and asks questions of a participant to help the participant identify techniques that can enhance their judicial experience, improve satisfaction, and enhance professional development. This includes setting goals or milestones, identifying challenges, and providing honest feedback.
Judges will be selected to participate as coaches and will be required to attend a 12-hour foundational training to become certified to serve as a coach. This training will be offered every 2 years, and coaches will be required to attend a half-day learning lab each year to retain their certification. Participant judges will be strictly on an opt-in basis so that the program will be meaningful to those who seek self-improvement. Coaches will be assigned to participants based on a number of factors, including geographical location, issues to be addressed (if known), the goals of the assignment, and years of judicial experience. Assignments will be made outside of the participant’s district.