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Benchmarks: Journal of the New York State Unified Court System

Summer 2006

FROM CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE
JONATHAN LIPPMAN

A Year in the National Arena As COSCA’s 51st President

The Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) provides a national forum to exchange ideas and develop policies and standards relating to the improvement of the administration of justice. Its members are the court administrators of each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands. COSCA works closely with the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) to promote public confidence in the courts, ensure access to justice and foster awareness of the judiciary as a coequal and accountable branch of government.

As this Benchmarks issue goes to print, my term as president of COSCA comes to a close. It’s been an exciting and challenging year. Among many opportunities to participate in events designed to facilitate state court administration, I want to share with you some of the most memorable moments and accomplishments.

In October, I co-hosted with the CCJ president, Indiana’s Chief Justice Randall Shepard, the first meeting of COSCA and CCJ with the Congressional Caucus on the Judicial Branch to discuss issues of common concern, including court security and state court access to federal funding streams. At a January meeting with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, I represented COSCA in a discussion of issues of importance to state courts. In May, I took part in a congressional roundtable cosponsored by COSCA — The Role of Courts in the Lives of Foster Youth — at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., a bipartisan discussion of legislative and judicial branch leadership efforts to reform the child welfare system. I also met this year with representatives of the Association of Canadian Court Administrators to discuss a possible joint meeting, another first for COSCA.

2005 NCSC William H. Rehnquist Award for Excellence
From left to right:
Judge Lippman, United States Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye at the presentation of the 2005 NCSC William H. Rehnquist Award for Excellence by Chief Justice Roberts to Judge Louraine C. Arkfeld of Arizona. Photo courtesy of The National Center For State Courts.

Throughout the year, COSCA’s work demonstrated its commitment to a proactive agenda. Most notably, it has strengthened its role in the planning and implementation of federal policies and procedures affecting the administration of justice in the state courts. COSCA advocated for amendments to the Secure Access to Justice and Court Protection Act of 2005 in the House of Representatives (HR 1751), to permit local and state courts to apply for federal law enforcement grants and other federal assistance, and proposed that court interpreter legislation be introduced and incorporated in the Senate version of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (S 2611).

In addition, COSCA worked this year on improving court practices in juvenile delinquency cases; affirmed its commitment to the Elder Abuse and the Courts Working Group; and opposed a measure to restrict the ability of states to use federal child-support incentive payments for child-support program expenditures that are eligible for federal matching payments. COSCA also cosponsored two national summits, one on problem-solving courts and another on justice for children.

This year’s COSCA white papers continue a tradition of excellence. In December, we adopted a white paper entitled “The Emergence of E-Everything,” which examined policy and logistical issues surrounding the electronic access revolution in the state courts, and established a national action plan to support implementation of the paper’s recommendations. In April, COSCA was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women to help implement the recommendations of an earlier white paper on domestic violence. At our August annual meeting, a white paper on emergency preparedness in state courts will be presented. (Once adopted, COSCA white papers are available online at http://cosca.ncsc.dni.us.)

As I began my term last August, COSCA celebrated its 50th anniversary as a national forum for justice reform. It has been a privilege to lead the organization at this particular time in its history. And I have been especially proud to represent you and the New York State courts — it is your commitment to the highest standards of excellence and willingness to try innovative approaches that make the New York courts a leader on the national stage.

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On-Line Access to Court Records Tested  2006 Law Day  Court of Appeals Decides Same-Sex Marriage & Depraved Indifference Cases  A Year As COSCA’s President  For the Record  Court Clerks:Unsung Heroes of the Courthouse  New Uncontested Divorce Packets  The Courts Closest to the People:The Town & Village Courts  City, Town & Village Resource Center  Justice Courts Action Plan  Improvements in Interpreting Services  UCS Technology Update  Report Calls for Overhaul of the Indigent Defense System  Judicial Association Spotlight  Historic New York State Courthouses and Trials  Did You Know?  Judicial Institute Highlights  JI Hosts Voter Education Symposium

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Web page updated: September 1, 2006 - www.NYCOURTS.gov