Technology displaces courthouse couriers

It is no particular surprise that the growth of electronic filing in state and federal courts would lead to a diminution in the need for physical couriers. But this article offers some nice color into how the system has changed, and how remaining courier services stay on their feet (or bikes, as the case may be).

Former Alaska Justice receives O’Connor Award for work on civics education

Retired Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe has been awarded the 2017 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education.  Justice Fabe worked on a series of projects to promote awareness of the courts in schools and among the general public.  The award, given by the National Center for State Courts, recognizes Justice O’Connor’s work in promoting civics awareness since her retirement from the Supreme Court in 2006.

I had the honor of meeting Justice Fabe once, and she is certainly a worthy recipient of this award.

Library of Congress features new exhibit on courtroom sketch artists

Smithsonian Magazine has a fun piece on a new exhibit at the Library of Congress featuring courtroom sketch artists and the dramatic moments they captured.  Check out the drawings of a frantic Charles Manson and a serene Timothy McVeigh — both are equally chilling.

What just happened? April 2017 roundup

The month in a nutshell: judicial selection drama continues, and court systems work to improve access and efficiency even as individual judges make headlines for the wrong reasons

After the hurly-burly of Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings in March, one might have hoped for a calmer month of April on the judicial selection front. But high-profile stories continued at both the federal and state level. President Trump started to turn his attention to the more than 100 vacancies in the federal district and appellate courts, but unwisely rejected pre-selection vetting of nominees from the American Bar Association.  The President also left open whether he would consider suggested judicial nominees coming from bipartisan screening committees — an opportunity to foster some bipartisan agreement and smooth the nomination process for lower federal judges.

States which select judges through contested elections also experienced ongoing tumult, in the form of legislation and litigation.  And too many judges made the news for behaving unprofessionally. Continue reading “What just happened? April 2017 roundup”

The judicial workplace

Many workplaces have written and unwritten rules — dress codes, face time requirements, and informal norms about appropriate behavior. Courthouses are no different, and the most fundamental rule for judges is to always maintain the appearance of impartiality.

These rules are so well-engrained that it remains surprising when they are flaunted — as was the case last November when a judge in Ontario appeared on the bench wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. Judge Bernd Zabel, a Canadian citizen and Donald Trump supporter, claimed that he was simply joking with his colleagues, who were predominantly supporters of Hillary Clinton.

Continue reading “The judicial workplace”