I wanted to begin my column as COSCA president to share news about a change in COSCA leadership. On October 13, 2015, I received a letter from Jerry Marroney, COSCA president-elect and Colorado state court administrator, indicating that he was resigning as president-elect, effective immediately, to focus on other work and family commitments. We will miss Jerry’s wisdom and leadership on the COSCA Board but understand completely that he has more important commitments at this time. Jerry indicated that he is not leaving COSCA, and we hope to see him and his wife, Pam, at a COSCA meeting in the not-too-distant future.
Consistent with COSCA bylaws, the current vice president, Artie Pepin, automatically succeeded Jerry as president-elect and will serve the remainder of Jerry’s term. The bylaws also provide that the COSCA Board of Directors is responsible for filling the vice president vacancy, and that the person appointed by the Board serves until the next annual meeting, when a successor is elected by COSCA. Accordingly, the COSCA Board met by phone on October 21 and appointed Steve Canterbury, administrative director of the courts of West Virginia, as vice president. Steve has been a member of COSCA since 2005; served on its Board of Directors from 2012-2015; and currently serves as co-chair of the COSCA/CCJ Meeting Planning Committee and COSCA’s Language Access Advisory Committee and as co-vice-chair of the COSCA/CCJ Access, Fairness, Public Trust, and Confidence Committee. Although we are sad to lose Jerry’s leadership, we are grateful to have talented and dedicated colleagues, like Artie and Steve, who are willing to step up to support COSCA and its important work.
One of the great benefits of COSCA is that we have the opportunity to learn from other COSCA members about efforts around the country to improve state courts and justice systems. An example is the work on justice reform being done in our states. Many states have commissions and initiatives that are focusing on improving access to justice in our courts. (Forty states, the District of Columbia, and two territories have access-to-justice commissions or similar entities.) Delaware’s Access to Justice Commission, for example, has established a Committee on Fairness in the Criminal Justice System, which is examining the factors that contribute to the disparities that exist between the percentage of Delaware’s population that is black and the disproportionately high percentage of the prison and detained populations that is black. This committee is undertaking, over the next month, a series of public informational sessions on criminal justice issues (alternatives to incarceration, education and root causes, bail and pretrial sentencing issues, charging decisions, and policing strategies) and hearings to gather input from the public on ways to make the criminal justice system more equitable and to improve public safety.
A National Advisory Board on Community Engagement in the State Courts, chaired by Hon. Eric Washington, chief judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, has been established, through a National Center for State Courts’ initiative funded by the State Justice Institute, to develop an engagement strategy and a two-way dialogue approach to bridge the gap between minority and economically disadvantaged communities and court leadership, with the goal of increasing public trust and confidence in the courts. This initiative is at the beginning of its multiphase approach. The National Advisory Board held its first meeting in the middle of October, and I am sure we will hear much more about this important work in the months ahead.
In addition, pretrial reform is one of the important topics for discussion at the upcoming COSCA midyear meeting in December. There will be a panel discussion on pretrial reform challenges and successes, including the “nuts and bolts” of implementing pretrial reforms, in New Mexico, Arizona, the District of Columbia, and Kentucky. Reducing monetary pretrial bonds—and focusing on risk-based preventative detention—are often key factors in pretrial reform initiatives.
Civil justice reform will also be discussed at COSCA’s midyear meeting. The draft report of the Conference of Chief Justices’ Civil Justice Improvements Committee will be shared with COSCA, and there will be a discussion about changes in civil caseloads over the last 25 years, as well as the report’s recommendations.
I hope that this column has whetted your appetite for what will be an interesting, enlightening, and, as always, fun COSCA meeting in Monterey. I look forward to seeing you there.
New Examining the Work of State Courts Report Available
Trial courts in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reported a combined total of 94.1 million incoming cases for 2013, the latest year for which complete data are available, according to Examining the Work of State Courts: An Overview of 2013 State Court Caseloads, a report by NCSC’s Court Statistics Project (CSP), with assistance from the Conference of State Court Administrators’ Court Statistics Committee and state administrative offices of the courts. State appellate courts reported 262,230 incoming cases in 2013, which include appeals of cases from lower tribunals and first-instance cases. CSP also provides in-depth, state-level statistics via their interactive DataViewer.
To help courts effectively handle the growing number of guardianship cases, the National Center for State Courts’ (NCSC) Center for Elders and the Courts developed “How to Protect Our Nation’s Most Vulnerable Adults Through Effective Guardianship Practices,” a webinar that focuses on three objectives: 1) to provide a general overview of the complexity and importance of guardianship cases; 2) to share practices that enhance court efficiencies and oversight, and 3) to provide action steps courts can take to improve guardianship practices. The webinar, sponsored by the National Association for Court Management, based on its Adult Guardianship Guide, encouraged courts to improve data collection and move toward performance measures. General pre-adjudication and post-adjudication processes were noted, with fundamental activities and innovative practices underscored at each stage.
Gavel to Gavel Hosting Election Night Coverage
Two states will be electing new supreme court justices in the upcoming elections on November 3. Two candidates will be running in Kentucky and seven in Pennsylvania. Mississippi will also be deciding between two different versions of a constitutional amendment regarding the provision of an "adequate and efficient system of free public schools," one of which involves the state's chancery courts. NCSC’s Gavel to Gavel editor, Bill Raftery, will be hosting live coverage of the election night results that evening at www.ncsc.org/elections.
COSCA Member Spotlight: Kathy S. Lloyd, Missouri
Why and how did you become a state court administrator?
After serving in multiple roles at the trial court level, I was excited about the opportunity to become Missouri’s state courts administrator. I was nearing eligibility for retirement, and the anticipation of a new challenge was probably what motivated me to engage in the selection process. I believe it was my experience as a circuit court administrator that most prepared me for this new role, although I continue to recognize daily how much I have to learn about our state’s judicial system.
What do you like most and least about being a state court administrator?
I enjoy the opportunity to work with the many talented and committed individuals serving in Missouri’s courts. I had very little understanding of the role of committees in our governance structure and have really come to appreciate the committee process and the judges and staff who contribute their time and energy to committee work. I have enjoyed visits to a number of our circuit courts and am planning to visit as many of the 45 judicial circuits in Missouri as possible. What I like least is navigating the political sphere that drives resources and priorities
Tell us about your family.
My husband, Bill, and I have been married for 29 years. Bill is a banker and works at a community bank in Ashland, Missouri. We have two children. Our daughter, Lauren, is a sixth-grade reading-and-writing teacher at a nearby middle school. She coaches volleyball and basketball at the middle- and high-school levels, and we enjoy following her teams. Our son, Graham, is in his third year of law school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has been enjoying his work at the school’s entrepreneurial clinic and has a goal of becoming a sport’s agent.
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 am not actively engaged in social networking on a personal basis, although I do occasionally sneak a peek at my husband’s Facebook page. I am on Linked In, but my activity there is fairly limited as well. Philosophically I believe the judiciary will need to use social-networking platforms to communicate effectively in the future; however, we need to thoughtfully balance security and privacy issues with our goals to enhance access and efficiency.
If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?
I would travel extensively. I spent several months in Spain during college and would love to travel throughout Europe. My husband and I have had opportunities to participate in mission trips to Guatemala, Brazil, and Mexico in the past and would like to do so again. I would also spend more time with my two-year-old great nephew and with other young children as I get great joy from these relationships.
Anniversaries . . .
COSCA congratulates the following members for achieving anniversaries in office in October and November: Dave Byers of Arizona (23 years); Don Goodnow of New Hampshire (20 years); Rosalyn Frierson of South Carolina (17 years); Sally Holewa of North Dakota (10 years); Jeff Shorba of Minnesota (3 years); Patrick Carroll of Connecticut and Regina Petersen of the Virgin Islands (2 years); and Martin Hoshino of California, Isabel Llompart-Zeno of Puerto Rico, and Lily Sharpe of Wyoming (1 year).
. . . and Birthdays
Eight COSCA members celebrate their birthdays in August and September. Happy Birthday to Steve Canterbury of West Virginia (October 1); Nancy Dixon of Kansas (October 6); Rod Maile of Hawaii (October 10); Pat Griffin of Delaware (November 1); Kevin Lackey of Mississippi (November 9); Rich Hobson of Alabama (November 10); Callie Dietz of Washington (November 15); and Harry Spence of Massachusetts (November 17).