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Courts and the 2020 Elections: Partisans for Truth and the Rule of Law

Courts across the United States—state and federal—consistently rejected efforts to upend the 2020 presidential election based on unsupported allegations of fraud or other illegality. They showed their commitment to the rule of law and their vital role in providing forums where claims are resolved based on evidence and reasoned debate. But while courts are a necessary bulwark for our democracy, events since November 2020 have underscored that we cannot rely on courts alone. In a time of increasing partisanship and the use of disinformation to undermine trust in government and other institutions, we must work to strengthen our courts, not only in their adjudicatory role, but also as exemplars of how we should distinguish fact from fantasy in addressing our nation’s challenges.

Developing an Updated Playbook for Adjudicating Self-Represented Litigants

According to the National Center for State Courts’ landscape studies of state court civil and family law disputes, nearly three out of four cases have at least one unrepresented party. And many have lawyerless litigants on both sides. For years, state court systems have developed simpler ways for nonlawyers to access and navigate the court…

Are government bans on the teaching of critical race theory unconstitutional?

According to recent reports, local legislators have enacted bills in eight states banning the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, colleges and universities. Similar measures have been or soon will be introduced in 20 more. CRT is an analytic framework that illuminates the manner in which racism and inequality are embedded within society and its structures. The anti-CRT legislative movement targets discussion of racism and bias in the public school system while chilling free speech in violation of the First Amendment.

WEBINAR: COVID Court Leadership Fatigue Dealing with the Delta Variant

This webinar, originally presented on September 30, 2021, includes discussion about the latest DELTA Facts (What the Science Says); Mitigation Strategies; Behaviors of Employees and Court Users; Vaccine Policies and Actions; Virtual and In-Person Proceedings; Courthouse and Hybrid Workplaces; DELTA Burn-Out on Judges, Staff, and Lawyers; State Court Administration Help and Guidance; and Criminal Jury Trial Backlogs.

WEBINAR: Courts that Saw the Future: Leading the Way, Transforming Services

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have reverberated around the world. In the U.S., many courts have implemented unthinkable (until now) and unprecedented changes to keep the “wheels of justice” turning during incredibly challenging times. The advances made over the past 18 months are profound. Long-standing assumptions have been challenged, experiments encouraged, and innovations embraced. It is an exciting, break-through time characterized by new ways of thinking and endless, new possibilities. It is a time for court leaders to embrace the disruption, lead the way, and transform their service delivery models.

Vaccine hesitancy: It’s not about knowledge

Someone once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Some of us know for sure that the mRNA vaccine will give you COVID-19, or contains aborted fetal tissue or “hell man, this virus thing is a hoax.” Their beliefs act as a powerful repellant to medical evidence and physician advice. Anti-vaxxers are few in number but their fears have spread faster than the virus itself. Vaccine hesitancy has slowed the progress of herd immunity to a level that healthcare officials have begun to think about an acceptable number of COVID-19 deaths in a post-pandemic world. A question raised recently in Nature, a leading British science journal.

State, Local Trial Courts Now Eligible for JAG Funding from DOJ

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the White House recently provided some renewed guidance regarding the use of Byrne-Justice Assistance Grants funding for the current FY2021 grant cycle that they have brought to the attention of state court leaders as recently reported by Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, president of the CCJ, and State Court Administrator Laurie Dudgeon, president of COSCA.