NCSC Provides Procedural-Fairness Training Materials
by Steve Leben
The National Center for State Courts has produced four videos that can be used in training programs for judges and court personnel about procedural fairness. The videos are available at proceduralfairnessguide.org.
The videos explore how procedural-fairness principles may best be deployed in situations faced by judges and court staff. Four video scenarios are provided, and each one includes discussion questions and links to additional materials about the topic.
The four video scenarios are:
- The Multitasking Judge (5:18): A judge conducting a hearing on whether to modify a no-contact order in a pending domestic-violence case also signs a stack of routine orders during the hearing.
- The Counter Clerk and the Upset Litigant (2:42): A mother who has just received a court order taking away her children comes to the Clerk’s front counter for information. The clerk may–or may not–be able to help.
- The Criminal First-Appearance Docket (3:04): A judge must process more than 100 defendants making their first court appearance in criminal cases.
- The Computerized Judge (9:15): A judge hearing a proceeding to terminate a mother’s parental rights sits in a modern courtroom where he accesses the court file on one computer, the court calendar on an iPad, and texts about emergency warrants on an iPhone. This leads to a motion for mistrial based on the judge’s inattention.
These video segments can be used as part of a training program on procedural fairness. Kevin Burke and I have tried some of them out in the past year; they help to crystallize for an audience some of the problems that can come up–and the video scenarios set in the courtroom are all based on real court hearings.
For judges or court staff who may be leading a training program in this area, the National Center for State Courts has also produced guide to each scenario for discussion leaders. Those guides provide additional background about each scenario; they can be accessed with a password that can be requested. (Information about that can be found under the “Leader’s Guide Login” tab at proceduralfairnessguide.org.)