Happy Holidays to all! Thank you to everyone who was able to join the midyear meeting in Naples. I trust everyone was enlightened by the terrific education program. The participation of many of our colleagues who serve as general counsel in the Office of State Court Administrator, by whatever name the positon and office are known in your jurisdiction, greatly enhanced the meeting for me. It is always a true pleasure to escape from the office and enjoy the companionship of fellow COSCA members and the staff members who join us biennially.
We end 2016 with goodbyes to several members of the COSCA family, including two of our longest serving members. It is with a mix of the bitter and the sweet that we acknowledge the retirements of Lilia Judson in Indiana and Dan Becker in Utah. Their departures are a personal loss to us and a loss to COSCA. Of course, we all wish them well as they ride off into a glorious and happy retirement after years of dedicated, highly successful work for the courts. Lilia has been executive director in Indiana for 19 years, and Dan has been Utah’s state court administrator for 21 years. Both are COSCA past presidents. Their intelligence, wisdom, leadership, and resolute voices will be sorely missed. Each of us would do very well to end our COSCA careers with records of success and the esteemed respect both Dan and Lilia enjoy.
So much is happening in the courts as we turn the page to 2017. Among the challenges are pretrial reform, better ways to assess and enforce fines and fees, movement on civil justice initiatives, and establishment of relationships with the newly elected members of the state and federal executive and legislative branches. With all of that requiring your time and energy, I am so grateful to each of you for the attention you give to COSCA by answering questions sent out on the email list, serving on committees, traveling to regional and national meetings, and supporting the work of COSCA in so many other ways. Please let me or any member of the COSCA Board know about issues we should address when the Board meets at the end of March.
As president, I get to experience firsthand the great respect and consideration given to COSCA by state and national leaders in government and nongovernment organizations. Your hard work across the broad range of state court activities has an impact in your states and beyond. I hope each of you has an opportunity every day to appreciate this challenging and rewarding work, whether you are in your first month or your second decade on the job.
Policy Paper Examines Legal Financial Obligations
COSCA’s 2015-16 policy paper, “The End of Debtors’ Prisons: Effective Court Policies for Successful Compliance with Legal Financial Obligations,” discusses the problems posed by the unwanted outcomes of fines and fees not only on those required to pay them, but also on courts and society. The paper examines the growth of debt imposed by legislative bodies via courts, the incarceration of those unable to pay, the issues of funding courts with revenue derived from fees, and problems with using for-profit entities to collect them. The paper also features a set of recommendations regarding policies and practices courts can use to minimize the impact of fines and fees while ensuring accountability from individuals who break the law.
NCSC Updates Best Practices for Court Security
The National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Court Consulting Services Division has updated Steps to Best Practices for Court Building Security for 2016. The Steps document, which was created in 2010 and last updated in 2013, provides guidance in enhancing the security and safety of court facilities and is based upon the considerable experience of NCSC security experts, who have assessed hundreds of courthouses and provided security training nationwide. The document also draws upon input from the CCJ/COSCA Joint Committee on Security and Emergency Preparedness, as well as guidelines from the U.S. Marshal’s Service, National Sheriffs’ Association, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Steps document is organized in sequential steps and phases, so that a court can adopt incremental improvements before reaching the level of best practices.
Iowa State Court Administrator to Retire in 2017
Iowa State Court Administrator David Boyd will be retiring on September 7, 2017, after 40 years of service to the state’s judicial branch. He was appointed state court administrator on May 13, 2004, and had served as deputy state court administrator and as district court administrator for the state’s Third Judicial District. "David Boyd has expertly led Iowa's court system through a series of tremendous changes and challenges to make the Iowa court system one of the most respected in the nation," Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady said. "As I reflect on all of David's accomplishments, I think he will most be remembered for how he cares for each member of the Iowa Judicial Branch staff as a family.” The Iowa Supreme Court will begin the search for Boyd’s successor after the first of the year.
Member Spotlight: Deborah Taylor Tate, Tennessee
Why and how did you become a state court administrator?
Like most of life, being at the right place at the right time. And, as we all know, relationships are everything. Our chief and I worked together as young attorneys for a former governor, and my former chief and I had fathers in the same Nazi POW camp in Germany. Looks like they may have had a hand in the opportunity! After having worked for two governors (Senator Lamar Alexander and Congressman Don Sundquist), along with Sen. Bob Corker, as well as working on numerous pieces of legislation with our general assembly, it was such an enticing opportunity to be able to work with the supreme court and judicial branch and build those interbranch relationships so needed at this time in history. (And we have three female justices—a majority!)
What do you like most and least about being a state court administrator?
We have a lot of turnover due mostly to state salaries, now that Nashville is the “IT” city; so, I hate losing great staff. However, I am always thrilled when we have trained our staff well and they are able to grow professionally and move on.
I absolutely love having a positive impact not only on good positive policy but also on the perception of the judiciary. Whether working with the governor on public safety or with our legislative leadership on juvenile justice reform, I thrive on being engaged and with the media to reach the public regarding our supreme court’s nationally recognized access-to-justice initiatives, individual judges who are making a difference every day in their communities, and the incredible work by our AOC staff across the myriad of issues we deal with. I also have enjoyed reconnecting and working with so many of my law-school colleagues who are now judges at every level of our court system. From seeing 1,000 citizens at an expungement clinic to watching our supreme court take their SCALES program on the road to over 30,000 high-school students to launching the first business/human trafficking and toddler courts in history—I love my job!
Tell us about your family.
What a great week to write this! Our middle son (PR/marketing in New York City) will be married in the Florida Keys in December, so we will welcome a new daughter to our growing family of six. My husband and I are reliving our own wedding of 38 years ago and are fortunate to have a 90-years-young beautiful grandmother with us, as well. We live in the same home, attend the same church (where I serve as an elder), and are so glad to have our son, a health-care consultant, and daughter in law (foundation head of our library) in Nashville after stints in D.C. and Germany. Our PICU RN daughter also lives in New York City; so, we spend a lot of holidays in Manhattan!
What is your philosophy about using social networking? If you use social networking, which sites do you prefer, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or others?
Yes, yes, and yes!
The AOC utilizes Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. I use Twitter for all of our court events; that way I can “tag” our senators, the governor, legislators, judges, and other officials about where the court or judges are speaking and what our events are. I use Facebook for our family and personal relationships. In earlier positions, I used Linked In much more and plan to try and use it for our HR needs more often in the future. We have hired a new communications director, so I hope we will update our web presence, and greatly expand our use of every platform (she plans a “BLOG”), in order to reach more citizens wherever they may be on social media!
If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?
Of course, do pro bono legal/mediation/juvenile and policy work wherever I am.
Write a novel sitting on the beach in between paddle boarding and kayaking most of the year, ski in the winter with our family and friends in Beaver Creek, and fly-train-sail around the world with our kids. (Ask me in a few years, and my answer will be spending time with my grandchildren wherever they are!)
Anniversaries . . .
COSCA congratulates the following members for achieving anniversaries in office in October and November: Dave Byers of Arizona (24 years); Rosalyn Frierson of South Carolina (18 years); Sally Holewa of North Dakota (11 years); Jeff Shorba of Minnesota (4 years); Patrick Carroll of Connecticut and Regina Petersen of the Virgin Islands (3 years); Martin Hoshino of California and Lily Sharpe of Wyoming (2 years); and Jari Askins of Oklahoma, Cynthia Clanton of Georgia, and Marion Warren of North Carolina (1 year).
. . . and Birthdays
Ten COSCA members celebrate their birthdays in October and November. Happy Birthday to Steve Canterbury of West Virginia (October 1); Nancy Dixon of Kansas (October 6); Rod Maile of Hawaii (October 10); Sara Thomas of Idaho (October 28); Pat Griffin of Delaware (November 1); Kevin Lackey of Mississippi (November 9); Rich Hobson of Alabama (November 10); Callie Deitz of Washington (November 15); Harry Spence of Massachusetts (November 17); and Mary Willis of Indiana (November 18).