Category Archives: News

Helping Local Courts, New York Style

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CourtReference recently took a look at the way New Jersey municipalities are combining their courts to save money and increase efficiency. Other states are using this and other types of organizational change to improve their court systems. New York is taking a slightly different approach.

Within each of New York’s Judicial Districts, each county has its own uniform set of courts: Supreme, Family, Surrogate’s, and County. Major cities, and each of New York City’s five boroughs, also have a City Court. All of these courts are part of the New York State Unified Court System, supported by the Office of … Read More

Do You Know Where Your Municipal Court Is?

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It might not still be where you last saw it, thanks to the growing trend for small municipalities to share or consolidate services, including court services. Agreements to share or consolidate courts are likely to become more common, because the driver for these agreements is money – specifically, the lack thereof in government budgets, and the need to cut expenses in order to maintain services. In the current economy, efficiency is beginning to trump tradition and “hometown” spirit.

New Jersey is currently experimenting with a variety of joint and shared municipal courts, and it’s an ideal incubator. Small in area … Read More

Too Much Electronic Access?

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Public access to electronic information seems like a good thing, especially in the area of courts and court records. With more and more courts allowing public users online access to court records, court opinions, forms, legal research and other such information, the push for more electronic access seems the logical and correct way to go.

It seems however, that there is such a thing as too much electronic access in the court arena. Recent news articles highlight the issue of jurors using twitter to send instant reports during jury proceedings as well as jurors using facebook to not only communicate … Read More

Hate crimes and how they affect all of us

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Hate crimes are criminal acts perpetrated against people, organizations or property because of the group to which the victim is perceived to belong.  This group is usually defined by race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation but can also include  disability, ethnicity, age or polititical affiliation.

On October 28, 2009, President Obama expanded the federal hate crimes law by signing a law that makes it a federal crime to assault an individual because of sexual orientation or gender identity.  More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported between 1998-2007, according to the FBI.  While hate crimes are prosecuted at the federal level, … Read More

Foreclosure Mediation

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As if going through foreclosure wasn’t difficult enough, those facing this life hurdle now must also ward off those seeking to take advantage of their situation. A recent news release from the attorney general in Connecticut warned about foreclosure rescue companies masquerading as law firms, taking badly needed monies from these homeowners and providing no assistance.

Foreclosure assistance and mediation is often provided free by the court system.  For example, sticking with Connecticut, the State of Connecticut Judical Branch offers a free Foreclosure Mediation Program that provides homeowners with free mediation services to assist the homeowner and the lender in … Read More

The “Rocket Docket:” One Court’s Solution to the Foreclosure Crisis

Foreclosure, foreclosure, foreclosure! It seems that no matter who you are or where you live, foreclosures have become a part of our everyday landscape. In the fallout of bad loans and a deepening economic crisis, an unprecedented amount of Americans now face losing their homes to foreclosure. We see it in newspapers, hear it on the news, and see signs in our neighborhoods. Despite the election of a new President and the intiation of  new plans to save homes, foreclosures are still on the rise.

There are two different types of foreclosure, judicial and non-judicial. While non-judicial foreclosures are … Read More

Conservatorships and Guardianships

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This week in the news, conservertorships and guardianships were a regular topic for discussion as one of the world’s biggest pop stars was placed under a conservatorship run by her father.  What exactly is a conservatorship, and how does it work?  A conservatorship occurs when a court issues an order allowing a person, business, or entity to have control over another person or entity.

In a conservatorship, the person with the control is called the conservator, while the person or entity being controlled is called the conservatee. A court will only appoint someone as a conservator if it is shown … Read More

New Online Court Records System Means Easy Access in Carter County

Need to know when your court hearing is? Curious about how much that big law suit settled for? Well, accessing court records in Carter County just got much easier. This week, Carter County District Court records went online as part of the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN). Several counties in Oklahoma already participate in the OSCN, and Carter County has finally joined the ranks.

Use of the new online system is complete free and provides easy access to all court information at the district court level. Online records searches can be performed by party name, party type (plaintiffs and … Read More

Rhode Island May Expand Reach of Criminal Records Expungement Law

Access to criminal records is a controversial topic on many accounts. Criminal background checks for employment are often important safeguards to protecting vulnerable members of our communities, such as minors and the elderly. It can also help ensure that sensitive information does not fall into the wrong hands. For example, a job where employees have access to bank accounts or social security numbers may not be the best position for a person convicted of identity theft crimes. Yet, the flip side of this argument is that access to criminal records can also create an unfair stigma, especially for first time … Read More

Victim/Case Notification in Maricopa County, Arizona

Maricopa County in Arizona added a great new feature to their Public Access to Court Case Information offering called Case Notification. Interested parties can register with their email address to receive information for up to 20 cases in Maricopa County. Users can determine what aspect of the case they want tracked. When a change occurs in that case, the registered party will be sent an email of the status change. Although this new feature was originally created for crime victims, the process does require a user to identify as a “victim,” therefore anyone can use this service. Click here to … Read More