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Released on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

The preliminary results from NACM’s Voice of the Profession survey have revealed this year’s number one issue: Public Confidence in the Courts. Over 95% of those responding reported that they either agreed or strongly agreed that NACM needs to advocate on behalf of the courts regarding the public’s confidence in our court system. This result is no surprise. The 2021 National Center for State Courts “State of the Courts” survey conducted this past October reported that public trust and confidence in the courts has sunk to a new low: 64%.

A common response to this issue is “we need more public outreach.” If we could just explain what we do and why we did it, the community would immediately embrace the court’s central role in society. This has been disparagingly referred to as the “to know us is to love us” approach. The community may actually know more about the courts than we think and yet remain less than satisfied. Here are three examples of why the public might have a negative impression of courts:

1. Many folks, including our fellow court professionals, think that courts are too complicated, particularly for self-represented litigants

2. Excessive fines, surcharges, and user fees that courts pile on can hobble defendants guilty of relatively minor crimes

3. Courts can exhibit subtle yet systemic bias against people of color, the mentally ill, and the poor

Some of the questions we will explore this month include:

  • Why do we think the public’s confidence in the courts is declining?
  • What can and should courts do about this lack of confidence?
  • What is NACM’s role in addressing this challenge?
  • What advice do these court professionals have for the rest of us?

Today’s panel includes:

  • Samantha Wallis, Assistant Court Administrator for the District Court, in Coeur d’Alene Idaho
  • Greg Lambard, Trial Court Administrator for the Superior Court in Middlesex Vicinage, New Jersey
  • Danielle Trujillo, Court Administrator for the Municipal Court in Littleton, Colorado

Click here to listen to the podcast. The audio runs 23 minutes 35 seconds. The video runs 24 minutes 29 seconds.
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Leave a question or comment about the episode at clapodcast@nacmnet.org.