Improving Public Knowledge of the Judiciary
Toolbox Helps Courts Develop Public Websites
The AO, under the supervision of the Judicial Conference Judicial Branch Committee and its New Media Subcommittee, continues to develop and enhance a toolbox of resources courts can use when developing, improving, or updating their public-facing websites. In 2012, 30 courts launched websites built using the toolbox, and more than 40 more were being developed. In addition, shared technical resources for these websites have streamlined tasks and increased efficiency. The court sites built using the toolbox are designed to offer the public consistent, user-friendly, highly functional access to court information via the Internet. The sites are customized by each court to provide the appropriate information and include content required by statute or by Judicial Conference policy.
Redesigned JNet Enhances Internal Communications
JNet, the Judiciary’s intranet website, has been redesigned to enhance AO communication with the courts and to increase operational efficiency. The redesigned website will be launched for use in early 2013.
Users access JNet nearly 2 million time each year in support of court business functions and to gather essential information. The new JNet will offer users increased functionality that is designed with user preference, accessibility, and efficiency in mind.
Educational and Training Programs Reach from Courtroom to Classroom
The AO supports the Judiciary’s goal to enhance public understanding, trust, and confidence in the federal court system through educational outreach to the public, through training videos for court staff and officers, and information for media covering the courts.
For example, in FY 2012 more than 60 training and educational videos were produced in support of the Judiciary’s programs and initiatives. Topics ranged from evidence-based practices to performance management. A video series, Pathways to the Bench, was begun, with first-person profiles of judges who have overcome challenges on their way to serving on the bench. Each judge featured in a video shares life lessons and pivotal moments that illustrate a central theme important to their success.
Educational outreach programs help celebrate Constitution Day, Law Day, and Juror Appreciation Month. This year, one of the new programs designed for classroom use drew on the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in United States v. Alvarez, in which a majority of the Court concluded that the Stolen Valor Act violated the First Amendment. Online materials help students present the facts in the case. Worksheets then help students identify arguments in support of both sides.
In 2012, federal courts participated in or hosted annual teachers’ institutes in San Antonio, St. Louis, Missoula, Seattle, Spokane, Tampa and Washington, DC. James Madison Fellows—teachers selected from each state—participated in a half-day First Amendment program at the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. A distance-learning event also brought together teachers at Los Angeles and Washington, DC courthouses.