44 Judges J. 1 (2005)

handle is hein.journals/judgej44 and id is 1 raw text is: INTODUTIO

New Initiatives and Goals of the
National Center for State Courts
By Mary Campbell McQueen

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Mary Campbell McQueen is presi-
dent of the National Center for State
Courts in Williamsburg, Virginia. She can
be reached at mmcqueen@mcsc.dmi.us.

n December 1787, Alexander Hamilton
accurately predicted the significant role
the American judicial system would
play in developing and preserving the
new republic. Hamilton's words still serve
as inspiration for today's judges, court
executives, and lawyers. Although 98 per-
cent of the nation's court business is con-
ducted in the state courts, the public's
attention tends to focus on the federal
courts, most notably the U.S. Supreme
Court. But this is changing.
The state courts have become the
final arbiters of state constitutional law,
attracting the attention of scholars, the
general public, and the legislative and
executive branches of government. As
the work of the state courts has become
more visible, they have become more
efficient and effective. In part, this is
because of the efforts of the National
Center for State Courts (NCSC). Over
the past thirty years, the NCSC has
enabled state courts to share information
about innovative programs in judicial
administration through conferences,
seminars, technical assistance, educa-
tion, and basic and applied research.
Since its inception, the NCSC has
remained unique among organizations
that serve the interests of the judicial
branch of government. Unlike other
court-related organizations, the NCSC
was organized by, is controlled by,
and is responsible to the courts of
the states, commonwealths, and the
American territories. The need for a
national center for state and local
courts came to light during the historic
first National Conference on the Judiciary
in Williamsburg, Virginia, in March 1971.
Initially, the conference was planned to be
a modest gathering to discuss judicial
reform in Virginia. Over time, the confer-
ence was expanded to include representa-
tives from each state, turning it into an
event of national significance.

Attendees included President Richard
M. Nixon, Chief Justice of the United
States Warren E. Burger, and U.S.
Attorney General John Mitchell, along
with representatives from all sectors of
the legal community. This convocation
of more than 450 participants was the
largest gathering of jurists, court execu-
tives, lawyers, and public representatives
to ever gather to discuss the administra-
tion of justice in the state courts.
During the conference, Burger out-
lined the overriding need for a central
resource to serve the nation's state
courts. In fact, Burger's proposal echoed
and expanded upon remarks by Nixon,
who had raised the issue of a central
resource for state courts in his opening
address. The Chief Justice then formally
introduced the concept of a centralized
resource to the conference participants
on the following day. As a result of this
support and the clear consensus of the
conferees, a resolution to form a nation-
al center for state courts was unani-
mously adopted on March 14, 1971.
Charged with a mission to improve
the administration of justice through
service and leadership to state courts,
the NCSC is governed by a board of
directors consisting of state supreme
court chief justices, state court adminis-
trators, trial court judges, administra-
tors, lawyers, and members of the pri-
vate sector. Chaired by the president of
the Conference of Chief Justices, the
NCSC has significantly and positively
influenced the way state courts are man-
aged. It is a catalyst for change and a
repository of new ideas, and its mission
is as strong today as it was in 1971.
It is my privilege to serve as the
NCSC's fifth president. My predeces-
sors have maintained a historical,
personal, and institutional partnership
with the ABA Judicial Division. One
continued on page 47

TheJudges' Journal  Winter 2005

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