Question of the Month2018-08-16T09:55:01+00:00

Question of the Month

Taking the pulse of the judiciary.
Have an idea for a question? Email it to


Two platforms dominated in our poll of virtual court operations

May 13th, 2020|

By Anna-Leigh Firth

Zoom? CourtCall? GoToMeeting? WebEx?

Our May Question of the Month asked judges which online platform they’ve been using most often to conduct court operations remotely during the coronavirus crisis.

Among the 702 judges who responded, the clear winners were Zoom with 48 percent and WebEx with 25 percent.

Baldwin County (AL) Judge Michelle Thomason said that by incorporating Zoom into her court’s existing software, they were able to set cases for hearing and view and print virtual dockets.

“It has worked very well, and we will likely utilize this platform for motion dockets and other hearings long after the social distancing requirements have been lifted,” she wrote.

Bexar County (TX) Judge Ernie L. Glenn said participants in his felony drug treatment court actually seemed more relaxed on Zoom than during in-person court appearances.

Other aspects of Zoom lauded by judges included:

  • The “waiting room”

Most courts have cut back to 25 percent or less of activities due to COVID-19 concerns

April 20th, 2020|

By Anna-Leigh Firth

Note, NJC alumni: By now you should have received an emailed invitation to participate in a full-blown academic study of how the COVID-19 crisis has affected court operations. Please complete that survey, which is separate and distinct from our informal Question of the Month.

Our monthly one-question survey emailed to NJC alumni earlier this month asked judges, “About what percentage of your normal court operations are continuing during the coronavirus crisis?”

The choices were:

  • Less than 25 percent
  • 26 to 50 percent
  • 51 to 75 percent
  • More than 75 percent

Nearly 6 in 10 of the 867 judges who responded said their courts were down to 25 percent or less of normal. Nearly 80 percent said they were operating at 50 percent or less. Fewer than 1 in 4 said their court was operating at 50 percent or better.

The majority of

Most judges don’t feel prepared to deal with COVID-19

March 13th, 2020|

Sign up for the NJC’s free webcast “The Judge’s Role in Responding to a Pandemic,” this Thursday, March 19, at noon Pacific.

By Anna-Leigh Firth

In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, our Question of the Month for March asked NJC alumni, “Do you feel adequately prepared to make judicial decisions involving the coronavirus or a similar public health emergency?”

Here are the courses judges most wish the NJC would offer

August 26th, 2019|

By Anna-Leigh Firth

Many judges wish they knew more about mental health.

That was one of takeaways from our monthly one-question survey, which earlier this month asked NJC alumni to choose among 13 potential new courses. The one that received the most votes, 328, was When Mental Health Is an Issue in a Case.

“There is no judge for whom mental health problems have not been an issue,” commented one judge, anonymously, as was most often the case among those who added comments with their votes. “It only takes one case of this type to realize you’re not as well-equipped to handle it as you’d like.”

The second most popular choice was Judicial Discipline: How a Lapse in Judgement Could Cost You (278 votes) followed closely by Effective Sentencing: The Latest Research (271).

Respondents could vote for as many of the proposed courses as they

Here’s how often trial judges disagree with a jury’s verdict

June 18th, 2019|

By Anna-Leigh Firth

Our monthly one-question survey emailed to NJC alumni in June asked trial judges, “About how often do you disagree with the jury’s verdict?”

The choices were:

  • Less than 25 percent of the time
  • 26 to 50 percent of the time
  • 51 to 75 percent of the time
  • More than 75 percent of the time

Top choice

Eighty-two percent of the 446 judges who responded said they disagree less than 25 percent of the time. The majority who left comments said the jury usually gets it right, and it is not a judge’s job to second guess their decision.

Wrote one judge (anonymously, as was most often the case with the comments): “When you hear the voice of a dozen people speak in unison, it is rare that they get it wrong.”

Wrote another: “I have rarely disagreed with civil or criminal juries. And I