The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), with support from the State Justice Institute (SJI), announces the launch of an all-new Bench Card Resource Center for the judiciary.
Juvenile and family court judges primarily use bench cards during hearings on matters related to child welfare, family violence, juvenile justice, and child custody. Ideally, judges review each case prior to a hearing and assess all pertinent information.
“Oftentimes new information is presented during hearings and, as judges, we must use all available resources in order to make the best decision for the child, family, or survivor that comes before us,” said Judge Dan Michael, NCJFCJ president.
Bench cards are valuable and quick resources to help judges identify issues that may affect the range of outcomes available in cases before them. They can assist judges in asking the right questions or summarizing key legislation or state statutes. The bench cards also provide terminology or key considerations, specify essential due process considerations for each hearing, and more. Aside from judicial officers, other court and legal professionals, such as attorneys, court administrators, and managers, may find bench cards to be helpful.
“As court professionals, we appreciate the value that bench cards provide our judiciary to put resources, cases, and best practice tips in the hands of our judges and colleagues,” said T.J. BeMent, National Association for Court Management president.
The NCJFCJ Bench Card Resource Center serves as the centerpoint for specific resources that include bench cards, checklists, and best practice recommendations that are categorized by topics such as: child welfare, juvenile justice, family violence, substance use disorders, and more. The NCJFCJ conducted research prior to designing the resource center to understand how judges and court professionals are currently using bench cards and how the website would assist them in being more effective and efficient.
“The Bench Card Resource Center is a key initiative of SJI’s overall efforts to support juvenile and family justice reform,” said Jonathan Mattiello, SJI executive director. “The NCJFCJ and its partners have done outstanding work by centralizing these critical resources in an easy to use, online format.”
Users of the website are able to use a smart search and filtering system so that information can be easily accessed and sorted. Users are also able to add an app icon on their tablet or mobile device which can serve as a quick shortcut to a specific bench card or the entire resource center. The website has the ability to add new and up-to-date resources as they become available and has a capability to allow the NCJFCJ to track what resources are being accessed the most and what information is valuable to allow for optimization of the site in the future.
“The NCJFCJ’s Bench Card Resource Center will allow for seamless searches and filtering of critical information so that judges and court professionals are educated, informed and well-prepared for proceedings,” said Judge Michael. “Educated judicial decision-making is critical in order to improve the lives of families, children, and survivors of violence seeking justice.”
About the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ):
Founded in 1937, the Reno, Nev.-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, is the nation’s oldest judicial membership organization and focused on improving the effectiveness of our nation’s juvenile and family courts. A leader in continuing education opportunities, research, and policy development in the field of juvenile and family justice, the 2,000-member organization is unique in providing practice-based resources to jurisdictions and communities nationwide.