COSCA Bulletin: March 2021

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A Message from the President:
Laurie DudgeonCreating a Culture of Compassion in State Courts
Laurie K. Dudgeon

“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.”—Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Here we are, finally, one year after the pandemic began. If you and your family have not yet been vaccinated, I hope you will have the opportunity to do so very soon. In Kentucky, we feel fortunate that court employees were classified as essential workers, which gave us access to the vaccine starting March 1. That means that more of us can make a quicker, safer return to our offices and parents have greater protection when their children return to school.

Before COVID-19, my colleagues and I took working together for granted. Few of us anticipated how much we were going to miss the privilege of carrying out public service in-person. And while we all recognize that telework and remote court proceedings are here to stay in some form, we’re looking forward with both excitement and apprehension to see how this great disruption will shape the structure of our workforce and our day-to-day operations in the months to come.

Of the many lessons learned during this extraordinary year, I keep returning to the role that compassion plays in helping organizations make the right kind of lasting change. I’m fortunate to work with a talented group of people in the court community at the state and national levels. You have taught me much these last 13 years and for that I am grateful. We’re working together to build successful organizations worthy of the public’s trust, and hiring the right people in leadership positions is critical to reaching that goal. While we obviously want to hire managers and personnel with good judgment and a strong work ethic, we also need leaders who bring a compassionate approach to creating a positive, productive work environment.

Being compassionate does not mean being afraid of making the difficult decisions required by the job. Indeed, it is how you make those difficult decisions that defines you as a leader. And we have many tough calls ahead as we continue to navigate what will be our new normal. In Kentucky, we’re facing the retirement of several key managers and court staff after decades of dedicated service. I keep reminding myself that it is in the organization’s best interests to avoid rushing to fill these positions and instead be patient until we can hire the right individuals who will lead with skill and compassion. My hope for the days ahead is that we can build and sustain a culture of compassion through a shared vision of empathy, mindfulness, truthfulness, and service.


Sign Up for the Behavioral Health Alerts Newsletter

Co-chairs of the Education, Partnership and Implementation Work Group of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine the State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness—Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Director of the Illinois AOC Marcia Meis—encourage COSCA members to sign up for the twice-monthly Behavioral Health Alerts and to share them with your state courts. Sign up for Behavioral Health Alerts here.

The alerts include resources, research, and news from state courts, as well as task force highlights. The co-chairs also ask that you encourage state trial judges and court personnel to sign up for the newsletter. An archive of the alerts and all task force products are maintained on the NCSC website at www.ncsc.org/mentalhealth.

Marcia and Chief Justice Rush also request that you appoint a contact for your state with whom the task force can communicate periodically. Please forward the contact’s name and information to NCSC’s Patti Tobias at ptobias@ncsc.org.


Nominations Open for Kenneth R. Palmer Award

The Kenneth R. Palmer Distinguished Service Award is presented to a current or former member of the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and excellence in judicial administration, or significantly advanced one or more of the following purposes of COSCA:

  • developing public trust and confidence in the judicial system;
  • supporting access to justice and fairness in the courts;
  • contributing to the effective and efficient administration of justice;
  • defending the independence of the courts as a neutral forum for the peaceable
    resolution of disputes; and
  • promoting the judiciary as a co-equal, co-reliant, and accountable branch of
    government.

Nominations are due May 1, 2021. For more information about the award and nominations process, click here. If you have questions, please contact Janet Reid at (800) 616-6165 or jreid@ncsc.org.


COSCA Member Spotlight: Karl Hade, Virginia


Why and how did you become a state court administrator?Hade My journey to this position is probably quite different from that of most court administrators. In 1979, I graduated from the University of Richmond with a biology degree and planned to go to medical school and eventually become a pediatrician. While waiting to be accepted to medical school, I decided to take computer-programming courses since computer science was a growing field of study and I was always somewhat of a math and science geek. During this time, I ran across several advertisements recruiting new programmers. One, in particular, caught my eye; it was for an entry-level programmer at the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES), Supreme Court of Virginia. The ad described how this newly created department was developing statewide automated systems for the judicial branch. I thought it would be exciting to be a part of the team working on this project.

I was offered the position and my instincts proved to be correct. I was given the responsibility for writing the first Financial Management System that would eventually be used by all circuit, general district, and juvenile and domestic relations courts in Virginia. The rewarding nature of this project caused me to reevaluate my career plans. Recognizing that at some point I might need more than a biology degree to advance in this area, I enrolled in the MBA program at the University of Richmond, where I eventually received my master’s degree. After many years of managing the development efforts of the IT department, I was promoted to the director of information technology position. The rapid growth of the Internet, new programming languages, and mobile devices brought many new challenges and opportunities. I want to express my appreciation for the support given to me in this role by Rob Baldwin, who was the executive secretary and my boss before his current role with the National Center for State Courts.

In 2005, Rob announced his retirement after 30 years as executive secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia. A nationwide search was conducted for his successor, and retired circuit Judge Bruce Bach was appointed as interim executive secretary. Several months later, I was called to the chambers of then-Chief Justice Leroy Hassell. He questioned me on the state of affairs in the IT department and my vision for the future of OES. At the end of our meeting, he told me that he wanted me to apply for the position of executive secretary. I told him that I was honored that he would consider me for the position but reminded him that I did not have a law degree, which was a statutory requirement at the time. The chief justice indicated that the court had decided the law degree should no longer be a mandatory requirement for the position and had requested legislation that would remove that requirement effective July 1, 2005. However, he said there was one small catch. Since I would be the first non-attorney to hold the position, he wanted me to have the support of the whole court. Therefore, rather than appoint me himself, he asked me to interview with the full court. Long story short, I did interview before the court, and afterwards Chief Justice Hassell called me to his office to tell me that I would be the next executive secretary and would be sworn in on July 22nd after the new legislation went into effect. One week later, I attended my first CCJ/COSCA Conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

I have now served for three chief justices and with five different governors’ administrations, and the past 15 years as executive secretary have been both some of the most challenging and rewarding times of my career. I feel a tremendous sense of pride working for the judicial branch, and I am honored for the opportunity to serve Virginia’s judiciary and the citizens of this great commonwealth.

What do you like most and least about being a state court administrator?I love the fact that each day is different and far from routine. This job requires you to respond to numerous challenges that are coming at you from various departments within the administrative office (AOC) and the other branches of government. I feel it is important to understand and embrace that aspect of the job or it will quickly overwhelm you. I enjoy being able to manage all the diverse functions of the administrative office. In addition, and most rewarding is being able to recruit and work with such an outstanding group of professionals. My staff is extremely talented and a number of them have been recognized nationally. I also enjoy identifying potential stars within the organization, providing them the necessary support, and watching them grow and innovate in their areas of expertise. I am so proud of the organization we have built and our fantastic team that shares a vision of providing outstanding service to our judiciary.

The least desirable part of the job, which unfortunately is fairly common among our ranks, is dealing with the other branches of government when it comes to securing and maintaining adequate funding for the judicial branch.

Tell us about your family.I first met my wife when she walked into our neighborhood pool shortly after she moved to Richmond from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. I was about to enter high school and remember thinking she is so beautiful and so out of my league. We became friends, but I regrettably never asked her out. Fortunately, I was given a second chance. Many years later my best friend ran into her at a school function and put into motion a plan for us to reconnect. This time I was determined to correct that previous mistake and we were soon engaged. We have now been together for 20 years. I was blessed to have played a significant role in raising her two sons. They both went on to proudly serve our country in the military. Joshua is an instructor at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He is married to Ashley; they have a son Abram and are expecting a daughter, Harper, in November. Jeremiah served in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan where he survived eight months of intense combat. Unfortunately, he was in three major blasts and sustained a traumatic brain injury and developed a severe case of PTSD. Within a month of his return his wife, an Army medic, gave birth to their daughter Jordan. Their marriage did not survive the after-effects of his injuries and they asked us if we would help raise Jordan. Kathy and I now have full custody of our granddaughter and have raised her since she was 11 months old. Jordan is without a doubt one of the greatest blessings in my life. I am sure many of you have seen her running around at our annual CCJ/COSCA conferences.

What is your philosophy about using social networking? If you use social networking, which sites do you prefer, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or others?
I think if used appropriately social media can be a valuable platform for communicating and messaging with your customer base. However, it can be problematic on a personal level. We are in positions where we often have to interact with political figures in both the executive and legislative branches and posts made on your personal social media site by yourself or others can potentially damage those professional relationships. Therefore, I only use Facebook in a very limited way to communicate and share photos with family and close friends.

If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?
I would love to travel more, spend more time with my other grandchildren, and continue the constant struggle to improve my golf game.


Anniversaries . . .

COSCA congratulates the following members for achieving anniversaries in office in November through March: David K. Byers of Arizona and James T. Glessner of Maine (28 years); Rodney A. Maile of Hawaii and Nancy Dixon of Kansas (10 years); Sandra A. Vujnovich of Louisiana (7 years); Kathy S. Lloyd of Missouri, and Deborah Taylor Tate of Tennessee (6 years); Cynthia Hinrichs Clanton of Georgia and Christopher Keating of New Hampshire (5 years); Marty E. Sullivan of Arkansas (4 years); Nancy J. Cozine of Oregon (3 years); Joseph Armstrong of West Virginia, Cheryl Bailey of the District of Columbia, Rich Hobson of Alabama, Elisabeth H. Kiel of Florida, Mary T. Noonan of Utah, and Dawn Marie Rubio of Washington (2 years); and Kristina L. Baird of Guam, Gayle P. Lafferty of Delaware, Geoff Moulton of Pennsylvania, and Tom Boyd of Michigan (1 year).

. . . and Birthdays

Twenty-two COSCA members celebrate birthdays in November through March. Happy Birthday to Rich Hobson of Alabama (November 10); Steven Vasconcellos of Colorado (November 27); Sigfrido Steidel Figueroa of Puerto Rico (December 9); Jeffrey C. Hagler of Ohio (December 16); James T. Glessner of Maine (December 23); Glenn A. Grant of New Jersey and Arthur W. Pepinof New Mexico (December 29); Geoff Moulton of Pennsylvania (December 30); Stacey Marz of Alaska (January 16); Martin Hoshino of California (January 20); Beth McLaughlin of Montana (January 21); Pamela Q. Harris of Maryland (January 23); Gregory L. Sattizahn of South Dakota (January 31); Joseph M. Armstrong of West Virginia (February 17); Randy R. Koschnick of Wisconsin (March 17); Lawrence K. Marks of New York (March 21); and Katherine Stocks of Nevada (March 27).