October 18, 2022, Court Leader’s Advantage Podcast Episode

Brought to You in Cooperation with NACM

What do we know about how the public views our courts?  We know that the public’s trust and confidence in courts has been slipping over the years.  The 2021 National Center for State Courts State of the State Courts survey found that public trust in the courts along with other institutions has been declining for some time. In that survey 64% of respondents said they had either a great deal of confidence or some confidence in their state courts.  But that is down from a 2018 high of 76%.

That same survey asked, “How much do you agree with the phrase that the state courts provide equal justice to all?”  For the first time, state courts were slightly ‘under water.’   46% said the phrase described the state courts well or very well, while 47% disagreed.  In addition, this year, public confidence in The U.S. Supreme Court (symbolically the paragon of our court system), sank to 25%, down 31 points from its 1988 high.  That year 56% had confidence in the Supreme Court.

We’ve asked five individuals, both judges and court administrators, how do their friends and neighbors view the courts and why.  We asked them about people they know; people who do not work in the courts. 

What are we looking to find out?

  • Has trust and confidence in the courts truly been decreasing?
  • Do people still rely on the fundamental fairness and impartiality of the courts?
  • If trust and confidence is decreasing what are the reasons?

Listen to the October 18, 2022, CLAPodcast Episode on your way to or from work. 29 Minutes 45 Seconds

Watch the October 18, 2022, CLAPodcast Episode 31 minutes 11 seconds

Become part of the conversation! Email us at CLAPodcasts@nacmnet.org

Today’s Cohost

Stacy Worby serves as the State Jury Coordinator for the Alaska Court System. In that capacity she is responsible for the coordination and operation of the centralized processes for the court’s jury management systems. Additionally, she provides jury procedure training and guidance for personnel in 40 court locations statewide.

Today’s Panelists

The Honorable Yvette Mansfield Alexander is a Judge with the City Court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Judge Alexander earned a B.A. in Political Science from Grambling State University and earned a J.D. from the LSU Law Center in 1979. After law school, she worked as counsel for the Louisiana State Legislature, Louisiana State Senate, East Baton Rouge Parish Public Defender’s Office and was an Assistant Attorney General for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. From 1988–1995, she served as Chief Legal Counsel for Secretary of State, Fox McKeithen and served as an Ex-Officio Member of both the Louisiana State Bond Commission and the Louisiana School Employees Retirement System, before being elected to Division “D” of City Court in 1995.

She also participates in the Louisiana Lupus Foundation, YMCA, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, NAACP and Dean Henry G. McMahon American Inn of Court. She is a President of the LA Judicial Council of the National Bar Association. She presently serves as, Financial Secretary for the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association.

The Honorable Edward J. Spillane is the Presiding Judge with the Municipal Court in College Station, Texas. He has served in this position since May 2002. Prior to this, he served as an Assistant District Attorney for Brazos County for eight years and as an associate for the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski for two years.

Judge Spillane received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, and his law degree from the University of Chicago.

He is past President of the Texas Municipal Courts Association (TMCA); the 1st VP on the TMCA’s Board; was a member of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct representing all Texas Municipal Courts; is a member of the Texas Judicial Council; a member of the National Task Force on Fines, Fees, and Bail Practices; and a board member of the Misdemeanor Justice Project of the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York.

Judge Spillane has written articles in numerous publications, including The Washington Post, Texas Town and City, and the University of Chicago magazine. His articles have focused on the plight of indigent defendants and also the benefits of mindfulness in the courtroom.

He has taught on behalf of the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center and several national organizations.

Sarah Brown-Clark is the elected Clerk of Court for the Municipal Court in Youngstown, Ohio. Sarah is a 1971 cum laude graduate of Ohio University with a B.S. degree in English; she also earned her M.A. degree in English from Ohio University in 1972 and earned hours towards a Ph.D. in English from Kent State University.  Currently Sarah is the Clerk of the Youngstown Municipal Court, a position to which she was elected in November 1999.  She is retired from Youngstown State University where she was an Associate Professor of English since 1972 and currently has Faculty Emeritus status.  Sarah is the mother of three children – twins: Lester and Lesli and Stephani and the grandmother of six, including a second-generation set of twins.  Sarah believes in community activism and believes that it is the responsibility of professionals to articulate the concerns of their community and to facilitate the formal and informal education of all members of the community.  During her tenure at Youngstown State University where she served as the Director of the Black Studies Program for several years, she exemplified this commitment by bringing nationally known educational speakers as well as nationally known entertainers to the YSU campus, events that were free and open to the public. 

She has fulfilled this personal commitment by serving on a number of boards and lecturing extensively.  She served two terms on the Youngstown Board of Education from 1992-1999 and while on the board, served two consecutive terms as President.  In addition, Sarah is a past President of the Youngstown Chapter of Links, Incorporated and currently serves as the Central Area Parliamentarian, a division which includes (69) sixty-nine chapters in (15) states.  In addition to being a past chair of the Youngstown Human Relations Commission, she is a past president of the Executive Committee of the Community Corporation, better known to some as the United Way of Youngstown and former chair of the Review Committee, which funds new programs. She previously served on several other United Way Committees and chaired the United Way Fund Distribution Committee for several years, in addition to serving as a Campaign Division Leader for the 1989, 1999 and 1991 campaigns.  Currently she serves on the Board of the Youngstown Symphony Society.  Sarah is a member of The Links, Incorporated; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Epsilon Mu Omega Chapter: Covenant Chapter #48. Order of the Easter Star and Third Baptist Church.

Sarah served two terms as Chair of the Western Reserve Transit Authority and served on the following boards:  YWCA, Youngstown Area Urban League, Mahoning County Mental Retardation Workshop, Woodside Receiving Hospital, Leadership Mahoning Valley, Goodwill Industries and the Mahoning County Mental Health Board.  In addition to being a member of the 1986 Leadership Youngstown Program, she was also member of the 1994 Leadership Ohio Charter Class. 

Rick Pierce is the Judicial Programs Administrator for the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Rick has served in the field of court administration for the past twenty-nine years. Prior to his appointment at the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, Rick was the district court administrator for Cumberland County. Prior to his 4 ½ year tenure as court administrator, Pierce was the assistant administrator for the 9th judicial district from 1988-1997.

As judicial programs administrator, he is responsible for implementation of programs and education in court administration at the general and limited jurisdiction court levels.

Pierce served as the President for the Mid-Atlantic Association for Court Management for 2005-2006. Previously he has served on the MAACM advisory board from 1997-2005.

A graduate from Washington and Lee University, Pierce received his Masters in Public Administration from Shippensburg University in 1995. He has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Association of Court Management, (PACM) since its inception in 1989. He has served as a board member from 1994-2001, culminating in his presidency in 2000-2001.

Kent Pankey is the senior planner in the Department of Judicial Planning, Office of the Executive Secretary, Supreme Court of Virginia (Virginia’s AOC), where he has worked since 2005. His current duties relate primarily to comprehensive projects involving strategic planning and performance measurement and management. He also staffs commissions and study groups, writes and edits reports and newsletters, and supports educational and technical assistance programs.

Admitted to the Virginia State Bar in 1988, Kent began his career at the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) where he held a variety of positions including staff attorney, departmental director, senior analyst, and head of the institutional review board. He advised judges, court administrators, legislative officials, media representatives. and others on a wide range of issues related to courts and their operation. Kent staffed or directed federally-funded, national-scope research projects on subjects including alternative dispute resolution, court coordination of family cases, the management of budget cutbacks, habeas corpus in state and federal courts, and futures studies and strategic planning in state courts. He was a contributing writer and for several years the managing editor for the annual Report on Trends in the State Courts and also the director of the Survey of Judicial Salaries.

Kent received a B.A. in Political Science from Hampden-Sydney College and a J.D. from the College of William and Mary. He is an ICM Fellow (Class of 1999) and a certified ICM instructor for the courses Accountability and Court Performance, Executive Decision Making, Leadership, Modern Court Governance, and Visioning and Strategic Planning. He has been a member of NACM since 1994 and has been an active member of the Education, Communication, and Membership Committees. Recently, he has been an editor for NACM’s new Media Guide and has authored or coauthored several articles for The Court Manager.

Do You Want To Know More?

National Center for State Courts State of the State Courts 2021 Survey Results

October 18, 2022, Court Leader’s Advantage Time Marker Sheet

One thought on “Courts and Confidence: What Do We Know About How the Public Perceives the Courts?

  1. Very interesting and valuable insights have been shared. This all the attitude of mindset that the justice system is well on track for future readiness!


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