#4 Veterans Courts on the Rise

Veterans courts are a rapidly growing type of problem-solving court. The veterans court model is based on drug or mental-health treatment courts. While substance-abuse and mental-health treatment are off ered as alternatives to incarceration, there is no single model. Typically, veteran mentors assist with the programs. Five veterans treatment courts were identified in 2008, and as of December 2012 nearly 170 veterans courts, dockets, tracks, or programs in over 30 states were identified by the Department of Veterans Aff airs. Nearly 8,000 veterans had been admitted to these courts.

#6 PA's Award-Winning Interpreter Staff Dashboard

Pennsylvania's Administrative Office of the Courts staff transformed the standard dashboard of the Microsoft Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application and won a 2012 Court Information Technology Officers Consortium (CITOC) Innovation Award. The tool was reengineered to address the needs of internal agencies and offices. The Interpreter application was the first solution developed using CRM. This interactive, customizable dashboard provides information, data, and charts for the following: Interpreter Availabilities, Continuing Education Credits, Examination Records, Interpreter Events, Interpreter Languages, and Interpreter Regions.

# 9 Courts Reach Out with Civics Education

State court civic education initiatives are critical to maintaining an independent judiciary. Lawyers and members of the judiciary have access to organizations such as bar associations and judicial conferences through which they can promote the teaching of civics. Many state court systems have broadened civics education through experiential learning modules such as mock trials, case studies, and service learning. State courts should partner with schools and encourage the use of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's iCivics program at www.icivics.org. This site offers free, interactive games and lesson plans tailored to the ways in which the 21st-century student learns best.

#10 Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Signed, sealed, and delivered is more than a Stevie Wonder song; it represents the attestation of an action or record of a court dating back centuries. Technology, however, has outpaced the days of wax seals and impressions. Over the last decade, at least 14 states have revised their court rules or statutes to allow for e-seals, while another dozen have bills or proposed rules on the subject.

#3 Video Technology Taking Off in State Courts

States use video technology in various ways. In 2011, the number of courts with videoconferencing capability in Michigan grew from 22 to 61. From 2010 to 2012, the number of corrections inmates transported by video increased nearly sixfold — a significant savings of time and money. Many states use video remote interpreting (VRI) to assist with language access issues. California developed guidelines to help courts and judicial staff identify when VRI may be appropriate for American Sign Language interpreted events, to identify minimum technology requirements for VRI, and to provide a self-assessment for interpreters planning to provide VRI services.

#5 America's Youth in Confinement

Although juvenile crime rates continue to decline, the United States still locks up more children than the rest of the industrialized world. Only 5 percent of children arrested have committed a violent crime, and 40 percent are being held for technical violations, drug possession, low-level property offenses, public-order offenses, and status offenses (such as possession of alcohol). The good news is that the rate of confinement is declining from the 1995 peak of 107,637 on a single day. African- American youth are still nearly five times as likely to be confined as their white peers.

#7 More States Open Trial Courts to Cameras

The number of states prohibiting cameras in courts is dwindling. In April 2013, Utah joined states that have relaxed their rules on cameras in trial courts. For the first time in Utah's history, television cameras, radio-recording equipment, and personal electronic devices will be allowed in trial courts unless a judge has a good reason to ban these devices. Other states that have recently expanded their rules regarding cameras in trial courts, or developed a pilot program to study the issue, include Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Only a handful of states have blanket prohibitions on cameras in trial courts.

#2 D.C. Judges Hold Live Twitter Chat

For Law Day 2012, the chief judges of the District of Columbia's courts held a Twitter chat-believed to be the first such event in the country. Using the hashtag #AskTheCJs, Chief Judges Eric Washington of the D.C. Court of Appeals and Lee Satterfield of D.C. Superior Court fielded questions from reporters, attorneys, and residents on topics ranging from food trucks to parking to cameras in the courts to services for domestic violence victims. The event was a success, and when asked if the court would hold another chat, the judges replied that they "will definitely" do another Q&A.

#8 More than Half of States Cut Imprisonment Rates

After nearly four decades of explosive growth, the U.S. prison population is declining. The rate fell in 29 states over the past five years. Ten states have had a double-digit decline in rates of imprisonment from 2006-11: California (17 percent), Hawaii (16 percent), Massachusetts (15 percent), Michigan (15 percent), New Jersey (14 percent), Alaska (13 percent), New York (13 percent), Connecticut (11 percent), Delaware (10 percent), and South Carolina (10 percent). The reduced rate of imprisonment is due to evidence-based policy changes. Although part of the motivation was fiscal, this decline will likely continue when budget pressures ease.

#1 New Jersey Pilots "Summons Only" Juror Mailing

New Jersey summons 1 million potential jurors each year. Since 2011 it has off ered an online questionnaire to all jurors, which most chose not to use. In 2012, a pilot project was started that sent a summons with instructions on how to fill out the online questionnaire. If the online questionnaire was not filled out within ten days, a paper questionnaire was sent. Online responses more than doubled for each participating county. Jurors' comments and reactions were overwhelmingly positive. New Jersey anticipates expanding this process to the remaining counties in 2013, which should save the courts significant time and money.