Courts, Workplace Culture, and Technology

August 24, 2023,  A Question of Ethics Conversation Episode

 

 

Today’s Question of Ethics Conversation looks at workplace culture and technology. It focuses on the ethical challenges to workplace culture and technology as it pertains to Canon 1.1 of the NACM Model Code of Conduct which states that a court professional faithfully carries out all appropriately assigned duties, striving at all times to perform the work:

  • Diligently - characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort.
  • Efficiently - capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials)
  • Equitably - dealing fairly and equally with all concerned
  • Thoroughly -  in a complete or thorough manner
  • Courteously - marked by respect for and consideration of others
  • Honestly – without cheating, genuine, without frills
  • Openly -exposed to general view or knowledge
  • Scope of the court professional’s authority.

According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), an organization's culture defines the proper way to behave within the organization.  This culture consists of shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding.  Organizational culture sets the context for everything an enterprise does.  Because industries and situations vary significantly, there is not a one-size-fits-all culture template that meets the needs of all organizations.

Workplace culture has a profound effect on any organization as these statistics bear out.

  • 53% of working Americans who have left a job due to workplace culture report leaving because of their relationship with their manager.
  • 94% of people managers agree a positive workplace culture creates a resilient team of employees.
  • 97% of executives agree their actions have a direct impact on workplace culture

Technology is a tool, but it can have a dramatic effect on workplace culture.  “Technology can be used to enhance information and operations, improve public access to court information and services, and reduce administrative costs while increasing efficiency in case processing.”

This Question of Ethics Conversation looks at how technology plays a role in workplace culture for court users, for one’s co-workers, and on a court’s institutional knowledge.

Today’s Moderator

Creadell Webb: Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer; First Judicial District, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

Today’s Panel

Courtney Whiteside: Director, Municipal Court, St. Louis, Missouri

Karl Thoennes: Court Administrator, 2nd Judicial Circuit, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Peter Kiefer: Retired Court Professional

Samantha Wallis: Deputy Trial Court Administrator, Supreme Court, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Cecelia Garner: Court of Court, General District Court, Richmond, Virginia

 

Leave a question or comment about the episode at ethics@nacmnet.org

 

Additional Resources:

Time Marker Sheet

 

Don't have time to watch the episode? You can listen to the episode on your way to or from work:

Audio Only

 

 

Quiet Quitting:
What Is It? What Should We Do About It?

April 27, 2023,  A Question of Ethics Conversation Episode

 

 

“Quiet Quitting.”  It is a topic that many of us have heard about.  In an era where it is a challenge to hire employees, is “Quiet Quitting” an emerging change in the contract between the court and employees or is it just a new term for some staff not doing their jobs?

In the past it has been given many names: “retiring in place”, “phoning it in,” or “checking out.”  What makes this iteration unusual is that it seems to be a mantra heard from younger workers.  Millennials and Gen Z workers have often uttered this expression.

  • What is Quite Quitting?
  • What are the ethical challenges the court faces to ensure professionalism and diligence of staff?
  • How can we ensure that we have a common understanding with staff?
  • Is this a new term for an old problem?
  • What Should we do about It?

 

Today’s Moderator

Eric Silverberg: Court Administrator, Municipal Court, Tucson, Arizona

 

Today’s Panel

Courtney Whiteside: Director, Municipal Court, St. louis, Missouri

Kent Pankey: Senior Planner, State Supreme Court, Richmond, Virginia

Norman Meyer: Retired Clerk of Court, United States Bankruptcy Court, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Peter Kiefer, Retired Court Professional

Tina Mattison: Deputy Court Administrator, Consolidated Justice Court, Tucson, Arizona

Karl Thoennes: Court Administrator, Second Judicial Circuit Court, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Samantha Borden: Staff Assistant, Customer Solutions Division, Water Department, Tucson, Arizona

 

Leave a question or comment about the episode at ethics@nacmnet.org

 

Additional Resources:

Time Marker Sheet

Business Insider August 2022

Quiet Quitting Is A Sign of a Deeper Problem

Why Quiet Quitting Is a Sign of Management Failure

Humorous Video of Different Generations

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZURp0qvVho

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU16i34Ss2E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wj2XFvJBdY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5YfJV12Xyo

 

Audio Only

 

 

Hiring Ethical Employees:
Accountability and Background Checks

February 23, 2023,  A Question of Ethics Conversation Episode

 

 

This is the second of a two-part conversation on hiring ethical employees. Part-one, (held January 26th, 2023), is available on the Ethics Subcommittee Webpage, on the NACM website.

What actions can a court take to optimize the hiring of ethical staff? What can you do to ensure that the people you hire will adhere to your court’s Code of Conduct? Relying on Bruce Weinstein’s book, The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees, the panel discusses the options courts have to identify ethical employees including interview questions about accountability and background checks. The panel considers questions including:

  • Describe a situation in which you took responsibility for a mistake you made. What were the consequences to you for doing so?
  • Have you ever taken responsibility for an error that another team member made? Tell me about it.
  • Tell me about a typical working day.

Other options the panel discusses include calling references, calling past supervisors, conducting criminal history checks, conducting financial history checks, and drug testing. Finally, Norman Meyer introduces interview questions developed by ChatGPT. Some of the questions include:

  • Can you give an example of a time when you had to make an ethical decision in your previous work experience? How did you handle the situation?
  • How do you define ethical behavior, and how do you ensure that you are acting ethically in the workplace?
  • Have you ever witnessed unethical behavior in the workplace? If so, how did you handle the situation?
  • How do you handle conflicts of interest?
  • Can you give an example of a time when you had to speak up or take a stand on an ethical issue, even if it was difficult or unpopular?

Today’s Moderator
Norman Meyer: Retired Clerk for the Federal Bankruptcy Court, District of New Mexico

Today’s Panel
Courtney Whiteside: Director, Municipal Court, St. louis, Missouri
Stacy Worby: State Jury Coordinator, Alaska State Court System
Peter Kiefer: Retired Court Professional
Joe Tommasino: Staff Attorney, Justice Court, Las Vegas, Nevada

 

Leave a question or comment about the episode at ethics@nacmnet.org.

 

Additional Resources:

Time Marker Sheet

The Good Ones

 

Audio Only

 

 

Hiring Ethical Employees:
How Can We Hire "The Good Ones"?

January 26, 2023,  A Question of Ethics Conversation Episode

 

 

What actions can a court take to optimize the hiring of ethical staff?  What can you do to ensure that the people you hire will adhere to your court’s Code of Conduct?  Relying on the book by Bruce Weinstein, The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High Character Employees, the Ethics Subcommittee explores some of the personal qualities that ethical employees possess.  These qualities include honesty, accountability, care, courage, fairness, gratitude, humility, loyalty, patience, and presence.  What can we do during the selection process to ensure that we hire employees with these qualities?

Today’s Moderator

Norman Meyer: Retired Clerk for the Federal Bankruptcy Court, District of New Mexico

Today’s Panel

  • Courtney Whiteside: Director, Municipal Court, St. louis, Missouri
  • Stacy Worby: State Jury Coordinator, Alaska State Court System
  • Peter Kiefer: Retired Court Professional
  • Eric Silverberg: Court Administrator for the City Court in Tucson, Arizona
  • Karl Thoennes: Court Administrator, 2nd Judicial Circuit Court, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Stacy Owsley: Deputy Human Resources Director, Pima County Superior Court, Tucson, Arizona
  • Rick Pierce: Judicial Programs Administrator, Pennsylvania Administrative of the Courts.

 

Leave a question or comment about the episode at ethics@nacmnet.org.

 

Additional Resources:

Time Marker Sheet

The video is 40 minutes 42 seconds long.
The audio is 38 minutes 46 seconds long.

Audio Only

 

 

Courts and Inside Information:
What Can and Should We Do with What We Learn at Work?

September 22nd A Question of Ethics Episode

 

 

We are not stockbrokers or day traders, but in our role as court employees we learn a lot. We know about patterns of litigation against businesses and against professionals in the community. We know about protection orders filed against real estate agents; we know about leaking basement litigation; we know about roofing contract litigation. Many cases are sealed and confidential, but most are wide open and available to the public if it takes the time to do the research. Due to the nature of our jobs, we learn about inside information more frequently than the public.

  • What is the appropriate use of this information?
  • Have you ever applied information obtained at work to our personal lives?
  • Do you think it is appropriate for front line staff to share inside court information?
  • Are there some applications of inside information that are ethically okay?

Today’s Moderator

Karl Thoennes: Court Administrator for the Second Judicial Circuit, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Today’s Panel

  • Dawn Palermo: Judicial Administrator for the Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court in Harvey, Louisiana
  • Kent Pankey: Senior Planner for the Supreme Court of Virginia
  • Peter Kiefer: Retired Court Professional
  • Eric Silverberg: Court Administrator for the City Court in Tucson, Arizona

Leave a question or comment about the episode at ethics@nacmnet.org.

 

Additional Resources:

Time Marker Sheet

Audio Only

 

Court Rules and Court Procedures: Technological Innovation
A Question of Ethics Conversation: August 15, 2022

 

 

The COVID Pandemic brought the use of technology to the forefront of our conversation worldwide. Technology is expanding at breakneck speed. Is it out stripping courts' ability to manage new technological innovations?

Relevant Ethics Canons

Canon 1   Avoiding Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All Activities

1.1   Performing Court Duties
A court professional faithfully carries out all appropriately assigned duties, striving at all times to perform the work diligently, efficiently, equitably, thoroughly, courteously, honestly, openly, and within the scope of the court professional’s authority.

Canon 2   Performing the Duties of Position Impartially and Diligently

2.1   Independent Judgment
A court professional avoids relationships that would impair one’s impartiality and independent judgment. A court professional is vigilant concerning conflicts of interest and ensures that outside interests are never so extensive or of such a nature as to impair one’s ability to perform court duties.

Discussion Questions

  • How can courts implement new technological innovations without infringing on Constitutional rights?
  • How can court administrators convince judges who are resistant to change that technology is beneficial?
  • What strategies can courts use to alleviate the digital divide?

Today’s Host
Courtney Whiteside, Director St. Louis Municipal Court

Today’s Panel

  • Stacy Worby, State Jury Coordinator, Alaska State Court System
  • Kent Pankey, Senior Planner, Virginia Supreme Court
  • Karl Thoennes, Court Administrator, 2nd Judicial District, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Joe Tommasino, Legal Counsel, Justice Court, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Peter C. Kiefer, Retired Court Professional

Leave a question or comment about the episode at ethics@nacmnet.org.

 

Additional Resources:

Time Marker Sheet

 


Audio Only

 

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: Political Agendas and Affirmative Action by Court Leader's Advantage
A Question of Ethics Conversation: May 2022

 

 

NACM has made a commitment to the values of providing equal justice regardless of race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or identity, disability, or social economic status. What is the court’s ethical obligation, particularly when it comes to implementing court operations?

 


This episode of A Question of Ethics will continue to explore diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and NACM’s commitment to helping provide equal justice. This session was recorded after the Ethics Subcommittee Conference Call on April 28th, 2022. The questions the group explored include:

 

  • Does focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies, and programs conflict with the court’s purpose to be a separate, independent, and impartial forum for resolving disputes?
  • How do courts keep political agendas out of its efforts to make court personnel and court process equitable for all?
  • How does implementing DEI policies and programs compare to Affirmation Action requirements?
  • How can courts today be more inclusive and accessible to those having business before it?

 


Relevant Canons from the NACM Code of Conduct for Court Professionals:

 

 

    • Canon 1.1: Performing Court Duties A court professional faithfully carries out all appropriately assigned duties, striving at all times to perform the work diligently, efficiently, equitably, thoroughly, courteously, honestly, openly, and within the scope of the court professional’s authority.

 

 

    • Canon 1.3: Fairness The court professional makes the court accessible and conducts his or her work without bias or prejudice.

 

 

    • Canon 1.4 Respect for Others A court professional treats litigants, co-workers, and all others interacting with the court with dignity, respect, and courtesy.

 

 

    • Canon 4.1 Inappropriate Political Activity (Paraphrased) A court professional:

 

    • retains his or her right to vote
    • engages in political activity strictly as a private citizen, in accordance with Federal and state law, with local court rule, and with the policy of the appropriate local governing authority.
    • participates in political activity only during non–court hours
    • uses only non–court resources
    • Never uses his or her position to politically influence others.

       

      Additional Resources:

       

      Diversity, Inclusion and Courts

       

      Time Marker Sheet

       

       

       

      Leave a question or comment about the episode at ethics@nacmnet.org

       


      Audio Only

       



Diversity, Equity, Inclusion: What is the Court’s Duty? by Court Leader's Advantage
A Question of Ethics Conversation: Summer 2022 Edition of the Court Manager

NACM has made a commitment to the values of providing equal justice regardless of race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or identity, disability, or social economic status. What is the court’s ethical obligation, particularly when it comes to implementing court operations?


This episode was a recorded conversation held immediately after the Ethics Subcommittees’ Conference Call held on March 24, 2022. The questions the group explored include:

  • Do courts have an ethical obligation to implement policies and procedures that ensure the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are applied to court processes?
  • Can a court apply diversity, equity, and inclusion to assessing fines, costs, and fees? if so, how does one go about doing that?
  • The ethical Canons from the NACM Model Code for Court Professionals referenced during the conversation include: Canon 1.1: Performing Court Duties, Canon 1.3: Fairness, Canon 1.4 Respect for Others


Please complete the survey questions once you have watched the episode.
Time Marker Sheet


Audio Only

Survey Question Comments (4/27/2022)

Case in point is that we require all filings to be in English. We are producing forms in Spanish and other languages, but these are merely guides to help filers understand the questions. But responses to the questions on forms must be submitted in English. This is not equal access for justice. We have people on-site that can help customers fill out forms on-site but outside of Spanish the help will be limited.

In my opinion, the Canons do intersect directly with an obligation to ensure that DEI principles and activities are comprehensively applied to court administrative and adjudicative processes. A prime example is in the area of accessibility: I think a court should be actively working to maximize accessibility via the latest technology (e.g., ODR, e-filing, chat and other virtual portals) as part of implementing DEI principles. My recent article in the IACA Court Administrator has a much broader treatment of this subject: http://www.iaca.ws/assets/The_Court_Administrator/Court_Administrator_Volume_11_Winter_2022.pdf (pp. 13-16).

The Courts have a duty to provide equal access to all.

Survey Responses Graph

Spring 2021 Edition of the Court Manager
Courts, Testing, and Vaccinations: What Will Your Court Decide?
A Question of Ethics: A Video Conversation on Courts and Ethics

The Coronavirus has hamstrung our nation’s courts since March of 2020.  2021 offers hope that we may soon return to our normal lives, but it also presents new challenges.  No matter how quickly the vaccines are distributed, it appears that courts will have to keep restrictions in place for a few more months.

In this video Question of Ethics edition, a panel of court administrators from around the country discuss ethics, COVID, employee testing, and vaccinations. The panel addresses questions including:

  • How will courts deal with the continuing restrictions?
  • What is our ethical duty to our employees and to the public while the pandemic still rages?
  • How do we manage our employees who are vaccinated; how do we manage if some choose not to be vaccinated?
  • What advice does the panel have for court administrators around the country?