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Court Talk

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What’s anyone doing to fulfill the promise of justice for all?
By one account, 100 million Americans have unmet legal needs, and not all of them are what you might consider poor. NCSC and many partners, including private foundations and teams from 11 states, have begun an effort called Justice for All to try to figure out exactly what those needs are and how to provide for them. “The scale is daunting,” said project director Danielle Hirsch, our guest on Court Talk.
Epi. 406: What can we learn from 135 criminal courts in 21 states?
NCSC is wrapping up a four-year project – the first large-scale look at misdemeanor and felony case management since 1987. This massive effort, called the Effective Criminal Case Management Project, is much larger than that one. A team of researchers combed through data from 135 courts in 21 states. Listen to Principal Court Research Consultant Brian Ostrom tell you what he learned. 
Epi. 405: What happens when a high school student gets bored during study hall
Anna Salvatore is a high school student from New Jersey who loves the New York Yankees and the U.S. Supreme Court. Her interest in the Supreme Court, which started during a boring study hall, led her to start a blog called High School SCOTUS that has become so popular that Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch’s clerk saw it and invited her to tour the Supreme Court building. 
Epi. 404: Justice on Trial
Criminal defense attorney Jerry Buting, made famous from Netflix’s documentary mega hit Making a Murderer, talks about life after the Steven Avery trial, how true-crime documentaries help “lift the lid off the black boxes” in the courts, and the importance of judicial education when it comes to the validity of forensic science. 
Epi. 403: Improving public engagement with the courts is a personal and professional journey for this Chief Judge
Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals chairs the Community Engagement in State Courts Initiative, aims to advance understanding of how to use public engagement to build trust in courts. “We must have both the perception and the reality of justice … without trust there is no real justice.” 
Epi 402: How does employee engagement affect court culture?
Judge John J. Russo is the presiding judge of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, in Cleveland.  During his five years as the presiding judge, he has developed a passion for employee engagement, and he believes court leaders should have an open-door policy that invites input from all employees, not just from judges and court administrators. Listen to Judge Russo talk about how he has changed the court’s culture and runs his court like it’s a Fortune 500 company.
Epi. 401: Tough Cases, tough decisions
Judges may have one of the hardest jobs in the world. D.C. Superior Court Judge Greg Mize joins host Jesse Rutledge to discuss Tough Cases, a book featuring 13 judges who share their stories about the most difficult cases they tried. Judge Mize also reveals his own experience with a young girl, a victim of child abuse, and her relationship with her mentally unstable mother.
Epi. 312: Is judicial independence under attack?
These days, many judges – from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on down – have felt the need to publicly defend the judiciary from attacks that judges make decisions based on political or personal biases.  Judicial independence is a hot-button issue, and in this time of hyper partisanship, it seems that almost everyone has an opinion about it. Thankfully, William & Mary law professor Neal Devins, appeared on Court Talk to help shed light on this topic. 
Epi. 311: Bringing state courts back into the constitutional picture
When we talk about constitutional law in America, why do we only think about the U.S. Supreme Court? U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Sutton outlines the underappreciation of the state courts in the development of American constitutional law and discusses his new book, 51 Imperfect Solutions.  
Epi. 310: Regional Opioid Initiative Chair Judge Slone gets personal
How can the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative help solve the opioid-driven addiction crisis? Tennessee Circuit Court Judge Duane Slone answers this question and shares the personal experiences that led him to chair this important initiative.(Image: Lacy Atkins / The Tennessean)
Epi. 309: Measuring recidivism in recovery courts
 What data do you need to measure recidivism and how do you collect it? These were the difficult questions the 20th Judicial Circuit Court in Ottawa County, Michigan had and their recovery court coordinator, Andy Brown, shares the lessons he learned in answering them.
Epi. 308: The dividends of effective court communications
 The Florida courts are in their second year of a communications plan. Hear Florida Communications Counsel Craig Waters and Deputy Director of Communications Tricia Knox talk about how social media helped the courts communicate with the public during last year’s hurricane season -- and other successes that have resulted from the court’s comprehensive plan. 
Epi. 307: Navigating the foreclosure crisis
Judge Jennifer Bailey, with Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in Miami, led her court’s civil division through the foreclosure crisis from 2008 to 2012. In this episode, Judge Bailey discusses how the court’s employees dug their way out of that crisis with successful case management and how their current civil justice pilot project is succeeding despite hurricanes and technological challenges.
Epi. 306: The science of state court statistics
For 40 years, NCSC’s Court Statistics Project has been providing a national picture of the work of the state courts through comparative data collected from trial and appellate courts. The project is being updated to make it even more relevant. In this episode, Researcher Nicole Waters talks about the science of data collection and how the project is improving. 
Epi. 305: Developing data standards for court records
As courts turn paper files into electronic records, it has become apparent to court leaders that a comprehensive set of standards is needed for state and local courts. The National Center for State Courts’ Tom Clarke talks about this project and what it means to the courts. 
Epi. 304: Family defenders, bringing a voice to parent representation in child welfare cases
 Many people have heard of a guardian ad litem, a lawyer who represents the interest of a child in family court matters. But how about parent representation? It is what it sounds like, providing legal representation to families that can’t afford it, but it’s much less known. Carlyn Hicks, a senior staff attorney and clinical adjunct professor at Mission First Legal Aid Office at Mississippi College School of Law, is spearheading efforts to make parent representation in child welfare cases a reality for Mississippi families. 
Epi. 303: Foster care should be support, not substitute, for families
When it comes to child welfare, we’ve become a nation that often fails to anticipate problems forcing us to react without enough information. This problem sometimes causes courts and agencies to separate children and parents, highlighting how our foster care system in many states is broken and dysfunctional. Dr. Jerry Milner, acting commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, has spent four decades trying to strengthen the child welfare system. 
Epi. 302: The brain science of addiction
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. Listen as Carl M. Dawson, a counselor from Springfield, Missouri, talks about the brain chemistry that can lead to addiction, the latest research on treatment options, and what courts can do to help those individuals with drug problems who come into the courts. 
Epi. 301: Judging on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic
The opioid epidemic is taking a devastating toll on American families, communities, and health care workers across America. It’s also playing out in courtrooms across the country. Judge J.H. Corpening, chief district judge in Wilmington, NC, is on the frontlines this overwhelming crisis. But he’s also on the forefront of finding answers of how courts can be a part of the solution. 
Epi. 213: Courts unite to fight impact of opioid epidemic on communities and courts
The misuse of opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription pain medicines is a devastating public health crisis, but it also is critically affecting our nation’s courts. The number of children in foster care because of parental substance abuse has nearly tripled since 2012, and drug overdose deaths are at record highs. Top state court leaders have formed a task force to find solutions, examine current efforts, and make recommendations to address the opioid epidemic’s ongoing impact on the justice system. Task force co-chairs, Indiana Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush and Tennessee State Court Administrator Deborah Taylor Tate, discuss efforts courts are taking to address this situation. 
Epi. 212: Retired chief justice helps meet refugees’ unmet legal needs
Retired Idaho Chief Justice Jim Jones has had a passion for war-time refugees since his days as a soldier in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. He values refugees and points out that the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese who came to the United States after the war are hard-working, law-abiding people who have greatly contributed to our country. He believes all refugees from war-ravaged nations are valuable American citizens, if given the chance. He’s doing what he can to improve their chance, by helping refugees with their legal needs. Article: For 50 years, this Vietnam vet’s heart ached for refugees. Now the retired judge is taking action, featured in the Idaho Statesman
Epi. 211: How do you measure the distance of reasonable fear?
On April 7, 1992, Mark Reilly shot and killed William Ford Jr. in an auto body garage on Long Island. Reilly admits to doing it, but the grand jury that heard the case didn’t indict him. The shooting and the grand jury’s decision tormented William Ford’s family and friends. His brother, Yance, decided he had to find out why things happened the way they did, and he had to let the world know that William was a great guy. The result is "Strong Island," a recently released Netflix documentary that has received rave reviews. Yance Ford joins us on Court Talk to discuss it all – the shooting, the role of the grand jury, and much more. Images: Director Yance Ford Movie poster for "Strong Island" Snapshot of William Ford, Jr. and his sistersImage Credit: Netflix
Epi. 210: Think you know a lot about our Constitution?
You may know that it was signed in Philadelphia in 1787, that the oldest signer was Benjamin Franklin and that it doesn’t include the word “democracy.” William & Mary Law Professor Allison Orr Larsen, an expert in constitutional law, can tell you a lot more about it. With Constitution Day (Sept. 17) upon us, Professor Larsen talks about the document’s strengths and weaknesses and its major misconceptions. And she discusses what she thinks will have to happen before it is amended again.
Epi. 209: Rikers Island: Symbol of everything wrong with the justice system
On any given day, more than 7,500 people are detained at New York City’s largest jail, Rikers Island. Nearly 80 percent of those people – roughly 6,000 -- have not been found guilty of the charges they face. Many remain in Rikers for months awaiting a trial. Research and personal stories paint a picture of conditions so inhumane that a New York independent commission examined the situation and determined that the only way to fix Rikers is to shut it down. Retired New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who chaired the commission, talks about Rikers and incarceration reform efforts. Resource: "A More Just New York City"
Epi. 208: Managing high-profile cases in the 21st century
The vast majority of cases in state courts are resolved with little or no fanfare. But when public scrutiny focuses on a particular trial – whether it involves a heinous crime, a celebrity, or a societal issue – judges and other court leaders need effective tools to help them manage intense media, security, and crowd issues, especially in a rapidly evolving technological environment. Paula Hannford-Agor discusses resources and tools now available to courts online to plan and manage high-profile cases in their courts. 
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Podcast Details
Apr 19th, 2016
Latest Episode
Aug 20th, 2019
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
15 minutes

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