April 2014


     April 2014

A Message from the President: Juvenile Justice

Zig Pines

Fifty years ago, a 15-year-old juvenile was adjudicated a delinquent and committed to a detention center “for the period of his minority [that is, until 21] unless sooner discharged by due process of law.”  If he had been an adult, the maximum sentence would have been two months. There was no counsel, no adequate notice of the charges, and no testimony by the alleged victim. The basis for the judge's ruling?—making (or participating in) a lewd call and being “habitually involved in immoral matters.” The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and held that juveniles accused of crimes in a delinquency proceeding must be afforded due process—timely notice of charges, right to confront witness, right against self-incrimination, and right to counsel. The landmark case was In re Gault.

Today, the facts of Gault seem almost Norman Rockwell-quaint. Consider, for example, the opening sentences in two recent articles about juveniles in our justice system. “The blond boy was 10 when he put a gun to the head of his sleeping neo-Nazi father and pulled the trigger.” In the other: “A fifth-grade student in Washington State has been convicted of conspiring to kill a classmate he considered annoying.”

Although we are reminded that there are still deplorable instances of conveyer-belt injustice (e.g. the “kids for cash” scandal in Pennsylvania, a state that is recognized as a model for juvenile justice), the context of modern juvenile justice is much more disturbing and challenging than the one in Gerry Gault's time. In a 2010 report titled The Children Left Behind, which examined inequality in well-being in 24 of the world's richest countries, America's rankings—in education, well-being, and health—were among the worst.

America's juvenile detention/incarceration rate is the highest in the world. Today, when we discuss juvenile justice issues, we grapple with childhood trauma, substance abuse, racial and ethnic disparities, broken families, an overwhelmed educational system, inadequate defense counsel, behavioral health needs of at-risk youth . . . The list goes on and on.

For 2014 and 2015 our court community will participate in a major initiative for juvenile justice. Supported by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation's Models for Change, the NCSC is organizing three regional meetings to promote juvenile justice reform. These special forums will include representatives from CCJ and COSCA. The first meeting will be in Washington State on May 22-23. The other two are slated for the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Today, juvenile justice involves much more than due process. These educational endeavors are great opportunities for us to share and learn about policies and programs that will promote juvenile justice in a holistic way—one that seeks to promote the safety of our communities and increase positive outcomes for our youth.

By the way, notwithstanding his silly adolescent prank, Gerry Gault eventually served his country for 23 years in the military.

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Every April since 1983 has been devoted to the social and economic well-being of children and families as part of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The 19th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, with the theme “Meaningful Connections,” will mark the 40th anniversary of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and will be held April 30-May 4, 2014, in New Orleans at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The National Center for State Courts also offers numerous resources on dependency courts, which are dedicated to the safety and well-being of abused and neglected children.

Florida Selects New State Courts Administrator

Longtime government lawyer PK Jameson has been chosen as Florida’s new state courts administrator. She will be replacing Elisabeth H. Goodner, who has served in the office since 2003 and will be retiring at the end of June.

Previously, Jameson served as general counsel and deputy chief financial officer of the Florida Department of Financial Services, where she supervised about 60 in-house counsel and their staffs and dealt with administrative law, employment, regulatory prosecutions, public assistance fraud, arson, public records, ethics, and other matters. In her new position, she will supervise a staff that provides direct support to about 1,000 state-court judges and their staffs and closely advises the Florida legislature on matters affecting the judicial branch.

She is a 1990 graduate of the Florida State University College of Law.

Civil Justice Initiative to Examine Reforms

The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) is launching a Civil Justice Initiative to respond to concerns about costs and delays that impact access to justice.  The Initiative involves the creation of a special committee to evaluate state civil justice reforms that have examined costs and delays in civil cases.

The committee is made up of chief justices, state court administrators, lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals. COSCA members serving on the committee include Dan Becker of Utah and Pat Griffin of Delaware; the chief justices include Oregon Chief Justice Thomas Balmer, who chairs the committee; Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht; and Connecticut Chief Justice Chase Rogers.

The committee’s first meeting is May 12 and 13 in Arlington, Virginia, and is staffed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System.  The committee will develop guidelines, best practices, and recommendations for state policymakers to improve the civil justice process.  To inform the committee’s deliberations, NCSC is undertaking a research project to document the landscape of civil litigation procedures and practices, including an update to the periodic Civil Justice Survey of the State Courts.  NCSC Judicial Fellow Gregory E. Mize will serve at the committee reporter and project director.

Steven C. Hollon Stepping Down as Ohio Court Administrator

It has been announced that Steven C. Hollon will be leaving his current job as Ohio’s state court administrator to become executive director of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission.  He is only one of five people to serve in this position since 1968, and no one has held the position longer (15 years).

The commission’s purpose is to review current provisions of the Ohio state constitution, indentify problem areas, and propose specific amendments addressing these areas to the state legislature.

Steve is a past president of COSCA (2009-10) and has served as administrative/staff counsel for the Second District Court of Appeals (1995-99) and the Twelfth District Court of Appeals (1983-90). He holds a law degree from the Ohio Northern University Claude W; Pettit College of Law, a master’s degree in communications from Miami University, and a bachelor’s degree in history from Muskingum College.


Member Spotlight: J. Joseph Baxter, Rhode Island

Why and how did you become a state court administrator?
I spent five summers during high school and college as an intern at the R.I. Family Court. Upon graduating from Penn State I returned to work at the family court for the next 18 years, starting as a clerk and ultimately serving as the administrator for that court. That experience gave me a firsthand look at all aspects of our state’s judiciary, with particular interest in court management and the opportunity to help set policy initiatives to enhance the court’s operations.

Subsequently, I was recruited to work at the state’s supreme court and began my service there as assistant state court administrator for human resources and security for three years and was later elevated to state court administrator in 2004 and have served in that capacity since that time.

What do you like most and least about being a state court administrator?
What I like most are the challenges we face every day to produce true access to justice for all citizens we serve. Whether our staff is faced with daily operations issues or long-term infrastructure projects, I have the great opportunity to work with a highly professional staff, committed to the same goals.

What I like least about my position is the annual “grind” of operating with limited budgets and resources as experienced by most in public service.

Tell us about your family.
I am married to Helynn, who is a great mom, fabulous cook, and workout nut (that ought to get me a few more good meals), and we have three terrific kids, Ashley, Joe, and Samantha. And a dog named Baxter!

What is your philosophy about using social networking? If you use social networking, which sites do you prefer, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or others?
My social networking is pretty much limited to texting and Linked In, although my PIO is constantly urging me to take up Twitter. At some point, I’m sure I will give it a shot.

If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?
I love coaching youth hockey and all things sports related. I would play more golf, travel, and when boredom set in I would enjoy getting involved in sports management endeavors.

Anniversaries . . .

COSCA congratulates the following members for achieving anniversaries in office in February, March, and April:  Lilia Judson of Indiana (16 years); Steve Hollon of Ohio (15 years); Anne Wicks of the District of Columbia and Jerry Marroney of Colorado (14 years); Pat Griffin of Delaware (9 years); Greg Linhares of Missouri (6 years); Laurie Dudgeon of Kentucky (5 years); and Nancy Dixon of Kansas (3 years).

. . . and Birthdays

Eight COSCA members celebrate their birthdays in February and April (there are no March COSCA birthdays).  Happy Birthday to Jerry Marroney of Colorado (February 20); Sally Holewa of North Dakota (April 8); Joe Baxter of Rhode Island (April 9); Pat Gabel of Vermont (April 11); Dan Becker of Utah (April 19); Anne Wicks of the District of Columbia (April 21); Pat Carroll of Connecticut (April 23); and Don Goodnow of New Hampshire (April 26).