As I write this column, Hurricane Florence has just made landfall in the Carolinas, and we mark the one-year anniversary of the landfall of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Our thoughts are with our colleagues as they face these new and ongoing challenges wrought by Mother Nature.
For those of you who were able to attend the conference, I hope that, like me, you find yourself renewed in spirit and rededicated to the idea of making a positive difference in the administration of justice. It was sobering to hear of all the ways that disaster can strike but comforting to know that the groundwork on what to do when it happens has already been well laid. If you were unable to attend the conference, and only have time to brush up on one security-related publication, I recommend reviewing “Maintaining Court Operations when Disaster Strikes,” a Trends in State Courts article written by William Rafferty (National Center for State Courts, 2017). If you have time for more, I recommend any (or all) of the articles about cyber-security issues by Mark Lanternman, which are included in the education materials on the conference website.
I want to extend a big thank you to our outgoing president, Callie Dietz. Thank you, Callie, for your strong, steady, and positive leadership over the past year. In her final act as president, Callie provided us each with a duck to remind us that ducks are strong because they stick together and that, like ducks on the water, court administrators must paddle like heck and still make the job look easy because no one wants to follow a panicked leader. My duck has found a permanent home on my office windowsill alongside my collection of turtles, which I keep to remind me that progress can only be made when you are willing to stick your neck out.
A benefit of attending COSCA meetings is the chance to visit with the liaisons from other organizations. I feel like I hit the jackpot this time, as I was able to connect with the representatives from the American Judges Association (AJA), the Conference of Court Public Information Officers (CCPIO), the National Association of Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO), the National Association of Judicial Educators (NASJE), the American Bar Association (ABA), the Judicial Family Institute (JFI), and the Council of Chief Judges of State Courts of Appeal (CCJSCA). Our liaisons bring a new perspective to our work and are unafraid to challenge some of our assumptions. As a result, I always find my conversations with them interesting and rewarding. The conversation from this conference that is still on my mind was a spirited debate over breakfast around the question of who is owed the loyalty of the state court administrator—the chief justice, the court as an institution, or the public with all of the competing interests and goals that are encompassed in that term.
The National Association for Court Management (NACM) and NASJE both assign liaisons to our organization, and we could not ask for better partner organizations. They bring our policy papers and resolutions back to their own organizations and actively work to support them.
One of the highlights of every annual CCJ/COSCA conference is the presentation of awards. At this conference, it was our privilege to see the state court administrator for Kentucky, Laurie Dudgeon, receive the Mary McQueen Award for Excellence and Leadership; the former state court administrator for Iowa, David Boyd, receive the Burger Award for Excellence in Court Administration; and Judge Melanie May, chief justice of Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals, and current president of CCJSCA, receive the NCSC Distinguished Service Award for her work with drug and reentry courts. The work they have done is an inspiration to all of us.
As your COSCA president, I attended the AJA conference in September, where I discussed our policy papers on mental health and rural justice and the efforts that states are undertaking in civil justice reform. Also on my schedule is the COSCA Board Meeting in Washington, D.C. where, thanks to the efforts of the NCSC Government Relations staff, the COSCA Board will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from several federal agencies.
I am looking forward to seeing most of you in Las Vegas for the COSCA midyear meeting in December.
COSCA Selects New Officers at 2018 Annual Meeting
The Conference of State Court Administrators named new officers at its joint annual conference with the Conference of Chief Justices in August. Officers for 2018-19 are:
Sally Holewa (North Dakota)—President
Joe Baxter (Rhode Island)—President-elect
Laurie Dudgeon (Kentucky)—Vice President
Callie Dietz (Washington)—Immediate Past President
Other members of the COSCA Board of Directors are Patricia Gabel (Vermont), Pamela Harris (Maryland), Greg Sattizahn (South Dakota), Jeffrey Shorba (Minnesota), David Slayton (Texas), and Robin Sweet (Nevada).
Nominations Open for Burger Award
The National Center for State Courts is accepting nominations for the Warren E. Burger Award for Excellence in Court Administration. The Burger Award recognizes an individual, other than a sitting judge, whose service, over a career or substantial period of time, has significantly contributed to improving the administration of the state courts. Service may be at the local, state, or national level. This prestigious award honors a person who demonstrates professional expertise, leadership, integrity, creativity, and sound judgment. Nominations are due October 12, 2018.
COSCA Member Participates in Loyola Program
Laurie Dudgeon, director of the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, participated in the Loyola Law School for Journalists program in Los Angeles last summer. She, along with Scott Bales, the chief justice of Arizona, discussed fines, fees, and bail reform with a group of 44 journalists representing the Washington Post, NPR, and other media outlets. Kentucky was the first state to abolish commercial bail bonding in 1976. The Loyola Law School for Journalists is partially supported by the National Center for State Courts.
Member Spotlight: Randy R. Koschnick, Wisconsin
Why and how did you become a state court administrator? My prior experience as a state-level trial court judge for 18 years, including five years as the chief judge for my judicial district, allowed me to see from the inside how the Wisconsin court system operates on a day-to-day basis. My chief judge position gave me the opportunity to develop and hone my court administrative skills. I decided to apply for the state court administrator position because I believed that I was ready for a new challenge and that I could take the systemic improvements that I made on the district level to a statewide level.
What do you like most and least about being a state court administrator? I most enjoy maintaining the relationships with the judges and justices in my state that I have developed over the course of my legal career. I think that I am better able to understand and effectively meet the needs of the court system given my prior experience. I believe that the judges view me as an effective advocate for their interests and the interests of the court system in general. I find great satisfaction in identifying and implementing system improvements, including cost efficiencies, that benefit court system users, court officials, and the general public.
Dealing with staff discipline issues is my least favorite part of the job because it can be very difficult to make decisions that can have a significant negative impact on an individual's life and livelihood.
Tell us about your family. My wife, Terri, and I celebrated our 35th anniversary last month. We have two adult daughters: Katie, who serves as chief legal counsel for Governor Scott Walker, and Kirsten, who is attending the University of Wisconsin Law School. It's a real blessing to have both girls so close to home in the state capitol of Madison!
What is your philosophy about using social networking? If you use social networking, which sites do you prefer, Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, or others? Personally, I avoid social networking as I've seen others allow it to limit their opportunities for face-to-face human interaction, which I much prefer. On occasion I'll use Facebook to look at pictures posted by friends and family or Twitter to track a quickly developing news story.
If you didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do? I'd like to teach on the subjects of philosophy, trial strategy, and constitutional law. These are the areas of my greatest personal interest, and I love to study, discuss, and even debate them with like-minded individuals.
Anniversaries . . .
COSCA congratulates the following members for achieving anniversaries in office in October through December: Dave Byers of Arizona and Ted Glessner of Maine (26 years); Sally Holewa of North Dakota (13 years); Rod Maile of Hawaii (8 years); Jeff Shorba of Minnesota (6 years); Patrick Carroll of Connecticut and Regina Petersen of the Virgin Islands (5 years); Martin Hoshino of California and Lily Sharpe of Wyoming (4 years); Jari Askins of Oklahoma, Cynthia Clanton of Georgia, and Marion Warren of North Carolina (3 years); and Randy Helms of Alabama (2 years).
. . . and Birthdays
Twelve COSCA members celebrate birthdays in October through December. Happy Birthday to Nancy Dixon of Kansas (October 6); Rod Maile of Hawaii (October 10); Marcia Meis of Illinois (October 17); Sara Thomas of Idaho (October 28); Kevin Lackey of Mississippi (November 9); Callie Dietz of Washington (November 15); Sigfrido Steidel-Figueroa of Puerto Rico (December 9); Milt Mack of Michigan (December 21); Ted Glessner of Maine (December 23); PK Jameson of Florida (December 24); and Glenn Grant of New Jersey and Artie Pepin of New Mexico (December 29).