COSCA Bulletin: August 2014


    AUGUST 2014

Message from the President

By David Boyd

Awesome!  Try as I might, no other word comes to mind to describe the recent CCJ/COSCA annual meeting.   Awesome was the hospitality of our colleague Steve Canterbury and his super staff.  Awesome was our venue at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.  Awesome was the beautiful scenery of West Virginia.  I’m sure many questioned the theme of our conference, but according to the results of evaluations from each educational session, it appears the educational program was an awesome success.  Many thanks go to the CCJ/COSCA Annual Meeting Planning Committee, as well as John Meeks and Toni Grainer.

It was awesome to have retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor join us for dinner Tuesday night at Kate’s Mountain, as well as at our closing luncheon on Wednesday when the prestigious Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Advancement of Civics Education was presented.  So, too, was it awesome when my dear friend and our colleague, Dave Byers of Arizona, received the prestigious Warren E. Burger Award for excellence in court administration at Tuesday’s luncheon honoring the 30th anniversary of the State Justice Institute.   
As we all know, COSCA has experienced an unprecedented number of members departing over the past year.  While we hate to see colleagues and friends leave, it was awesome to have our annual meeting roster show ten new members—or in the case of Rich Hobson of Alabama, a former member returning for a second tour of duty in our ranks—in attendance at the annual meeting.   On the heels of such an awesome annual meeting, I hope each of you are making plans to attend our midyear meeting December 4-6, in Savannah, Georgia.  Callie Dietz and our Education Committee are hard at work preparing what I’m sure will be an exciting and thought-provoking  program on Best Practices in Human Relations.  Each COSCA member is encouraged to bring your HR director or other appropriate staff person to participate in the education program, as well as to join in facilitated discussion among HR Directors on Saturday morning. 
Finally, let me close this column with a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you for giving me the privilege of serving you and our organization as president for the next year.  It is not a responsibility I take on lightly.  I am deeply honored to be following in the footsteps of some of the most gifted court administrators whom I have looked up to and admired over my now 37 years in the profession.  But, maybe more importantly, many of them have become wonderful friends.  I will do my best not to let them, or you, down.       

e-Courts 2014 Coming in December

Registration is open for the National Center for State Courts’ e-Courts 2014 conference, December 8-10 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.  Education will focus on some classic themes, such as implementation of successful e-filing programs, along with newer ones, such as how mobile devices are presenting both opportunities and challenges to the courts.  How can courts keep up with rapidly and radically changing public expectations?  Can court data safely and securely be moved from paper to the cloud?  e-Courts’ speakers include state and trial court administrators, chief information officers, and experts from NCSC.  A complete list of session titles is available on the e-Courts website

Submit Articles for Trends 2015

Submissions for the 2015 edition of Trends in State Courts are now being accepted. Send e-mail abstracts of no more than 500 words by October 15, 2014, to Deborah Smith at the National Center for State Courts. Abstracts received after this date are welcome and will be considered for  the monthly online edition. Trends in State Courts is an annual, peer-reviewed publication that highlights innovative practices in critical areas that are of interest to courts, and often serves as a guide for developing new initiatives and programs and informing and supporting policy decisions.

Trends is always interested in the comments and perspectives of COSCA members.  The 2014 edition featured David Slayton (Texas) and Zig Pines (Pennsylvania) discussing the use of elder law task forces in their states. 

Nominations Open for 2014 Warren E. Burger Award

The National Center for State Courts is seeking nominations for the 2014 Warren E. Burger Award for Excellence in Judicial Administration. This prestigious annual award honors a state court system administrative official who demonstrates professional expertise, leadership, integrity, creativity, innovativeness, and sound judgment. The award honors those who have taken decisive steps to improve the operation of courts at the state or local level that may have application to courts nationwide. Nominations must be received by September 29, 2014.

Member Spotlight: Regina Petersen, Virgin Islands

Why and how did you become a state court administrator?
In late 2010, after 13 years of service, I left the child support arena and entered the legislative branch to manage the operations of the senate president’s office in the St. Thomas/St. John District. While I had appeared to testify before the legislature on numerous occasions, my work in the president’s office offered new insights into the entire political process, and the instability and uncertainty that comes along with political positions. Since I was not a part of the central staff of the legislative branch, it was clear that I could be out of a job in two years if my senator were to lose his bid for reelection. Thankfully, about midway through the term, I became aware of an employment opportunity with the supreme court for an assistant to then Administrative Director Glenda L. Lake, and applied.  What I couldn’t have known at that time was that Attorney Lake would leave the supreme court shortly thereafter to pursue a career opportunity with the federal district court. I am however extremely grateful to her for her mentorship and guidance while at the Court, and for the chance to join such a wonderful staff and family.

The Virgin Islands’ judiciary is not unified, and in the last two years there has been significant and tangible discussion about changing the organizational structure of the local judiciary. These discussions have led to draft legislation and a legislative hearing process, which is ongoing. In the interim, a study conducted by the National Center for State Courts in 2013 identified significant duplication of both effort and positions as potential areas where the judicial branch could benefit from unification.  Accordingly, in dealing with the demands of day-to-day operations and the existing vacancies at the supreme court, the chief justice, Rhys S. Hodge, appointed me to act in the capacity of administrative director.  I thank him for the opportunity to serve in this capacity and for his confidence in my ability to handle the current demands of the position.  

What do you like most and least about being a state court administrator?
What I like most about being a state court administrator is the fact that it is truly a brand new learning curve. I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve in all three branches of government in the Virgin Islands, and it is refreshing to work in an area that isn’t over-influenced by politics and all of the pressures that go along with campaigns and elections. However, having been an agency director in the executive branch and worked in the senate president’s office during the 30th Legislature, I can honestly say that this is the first position in which the funding debate is so up close and personal.  In the executive branch the cuts came from the top down and you just lived with it. As the director of a partially federally funded program, at a minimum you always knew the state match was guaranteed, and it was never your direct responsibility to make the case for funding. Similarly, while serving in the legislative branch, there was no question whether the funding authority would appropriate sufficient funding for its operations. However, In the judiciary, adequate funding, or inadequate funding rather, has been the main ingredient in every meal. In this regard, I would have to say that what I like least about being a state court administrator is funding uncertainty and the constant battle to provide more justice, and more access, with fewer and fewer resources.  

Tell us about your family.
I am happily married to Ira  A. Petersen, Jr. We have three wonderful children--two boys, Mario who is 12, Ira III, whom we call Tre, who is 10, and one girl, Jeisly who is 8 years old.

What is your philosophy about using social networking? If you use social networking, which sites do you prefer, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or others?  
Social networking is definitely the new market place. The key is in selecting the appropriate media for your target population. As it relates to business operations, I believe there is a benefit in using the social media outlet as a tool for advertisement, promotion, and even as a search engine.  In fact, I first joined Facebook in 2010 while I was the director of the child support division to test it as a potential location tool for both custodial and non-custodial parents, and I did find it to be useful in many instances. 

On the personal side of social media networking, I am not much of a user. As this whole idea of social networking has evolved, and organizations like my church have become engaged in its use for outreach, promotion, and communication purposes, I can say that I have tuned in a bit more. As a parent however, I have real anxiety about Facebook, Instagram, and other social media forums.  As my kids quickly approach their teens, I am sure to become completely “plugged” in. 

If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?
 If I didn’t have to work for a living, I would probably spend more time developing and pursuing a ministry in Christian music, traveling, and spending much more quality time with my family.

Anniversaries . . .

COSCA congratulates the following members for achieving anniversaries in office in August, September, and October:  J. D. Gingerich of Arkansas (26 years); Dan Becker of Utah and Don Goodnow of New Hampshire (19 years); Zig Pines of Pennsylvania (14 years); Sonia Vélez Colón of Puerto Rico (10 years); Sally Holewa of North Dakota and Otto Thompson of American Samoa (9 years); Artie Pepin of New Mexico (8 years); Glenn Grant of New Jersey (6 years); Christine Johnson of Alaska and Marla Moore of Georgia (5 years); Mike Tardy of Illinois (3 years); Steve Jahr of California and Jeff Shorba of Minnesota (2 years); and Patrick Carroll of Connecticut, Pam Harris of Maryland, Regina Petersen of the Virgin Islands, and Greg Sattizahn of Sourth Dakota (1 year).

. . . and Birthdays

Ten COSCA members celebrate their birthdays in August, September, and October.  Happy Birthday to David Slayton of Texas (August 16); Bill Young of Tennessee (August 31); J. D. Gingerich of Arkansas (September 2); Steve Jahr of California (September 16); Robin Sweet of Nevada (September 21); Mike Tardy of Illinois (September 28); Steve Canterbury of West Virginia (October 1); Nancy Dixon of Kansas (October 6); Rod Maile of Hawaii (October 10); and Mike Evans of Oklahoma (October 23).