The National Judicial College (NJC), with funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, is in the process of developing an advanced curriculum on criminal justice topics for state court judges. As part of the curriculum development process, NJC surveyed state judicial educators, state court administrators, and other stakeholders to identify specific needs around judicial education in the criminal justice arena and how the developed curriculum might meet those needs.
The survey was completed in January 2016. One of the questions asked was whether adequate judicial education existed on criminal law and criminal justice topics. Even though the majority replied that mandatory education existed on these topics (67%) in their state, respondents were evenly split on whether what existed was adequate to meet all of their needs. Some of the content mentioned as needing some skill-building for judges were evidence-based sentencing, digital and forensic evidence, expert witnesses, and pretrial justice matters.
To meet this gap in programming, and to complement programming available in individual states, the NJC will be offering two fully funded two-day programs – one in December 2016 and the second in April 2017. Each program will pilot the curriculum to 50 judges. Included in the pilot curriculum are concepts such as judicial independence, forensic evidence, implicit bias, adolescent brain development, and risk/needs assessments. Special funding will cover the costs of the program, travel, and lodging to qualifying state court judges.
The December 2016 program will be held in Phoenix, Arizona and the April 2017 program will be held in a location easily accessible to judges from the eastern half of the country.
For more information about the program, please contact Katheryn Yetter, academic director, at (775) 327-8213.