Two recent publications have caught my eye:

First, the Joint Technology Committee of COSCA and NACM has issued another quality “Resource Bulletin,” this time on Social Media Marketing for Courts (https://www.ncsc.org/About-us/Committees/Joint-Technology-Committee/Publications-and-Webinars.aspx).  As readers of this blog know, I have paid a lot of attention to social media in the courts for many years (most recently, https://courtleader.net/2018/05/29/social-media-and-the-courts-time-for-a-reassessment/), so the JTC bulletin really caught my eye.

The bulletin does a nice job of updating how courts are using social media, as well as giving concise descriptions of the major platforms in use:  Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Flickr.  Further, the bulletin has a beneficial, succinct section outlining the critical element of governance in a court’s use of social media:

Social media governance is the combination of policies, processes, and tools the court uses to minimize the risk of a social media mis-fire and to protect the reputation of the court. Governance includes regular efforts to look for abandoned or outdated content, and counterfeit, spoof, or phishing sites that could confuse or mislead the public, or create a cybersecurity or security issue. A good governance plan will mitigate potential risks from both outside and within the court.

A key part of a governance plan is to clearly designate who has what rights to publish official social media communications on behalf of the court.  You don’t want to allow anyone in the court to make posts – just those who have a fully understanding of the court’s messaging and the authority to speak for the court.

The bulletin makes it clear that the use of social media by a court is not a simple thing, and involves  everyone at the court, including judges and all staff members.  Whether your court (or other organization – the bulletin is also valuable for other entities) already uses social media or not, the bulletin is a worthwhile read to help understand and effectively use social media to further court goals.

The second publication is the Plain Language Guide published by the National Association for Court Management (NACM), found at https://nacmnet.org/resources/publications/.  NACM generally publishes resource guides annually, and this latest guide is one of the best.  Using plain language to communicate with court users is extremely important.  As the guide states:

When we improve the public’s ability to understand the work of the courts and their legal options available to remedy legal problems, we increase the likelihood that users will select the right path to resolution of their issue, which may include non-legal remedies altogether. The use of plain language is a cornerstone of transparent government. Allowing the public to have a clear understanding of the work of the courts is important to improving the public trust and confidence in the third branch. Access to justice exists when the public can understand, use, and afford information and services to prevent and resolve their legal disputes and to achieve just outcomes without delay.

The guide does a good job of providing fundamental principles and key areas for plain language use.  These include court forms, websites, signage, and other communication areas.  Finally, the guide has a section on other plain language tools and resources for further exploration of the topic.

Both of these publications are practical guides for courts to use and refer to often.  They are valuable additions to court administration literature, and I heartily recommend them!

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