The Third Branch
Midwest justices gather in Madison
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David T. Prosser, foreground, takes notes during a presentation about recent U.S. Supreme Court cases at the Conference of Midwest Supreme Court Justices and Administrators Oct. 17 in Madison. Presenters included Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California-Irvine School of Law, and John C. Eastman, Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law, Chapman University School of Law. The videoconference session was held at UW-Extension's Pyle Center on the UW-Madison campus.
Sixty state Supreme Court justices and court administrators from a dozen midwestern states, including Wisconsin, gathered in Madison Oct. 17-18 for the first ever Midwest Conference of Supreme Court Justices and State Court Administrators.
Justices and others who attended the conference discussed the potential legal and ethical ramifications of new media and rapidly changing technology on the courts, as well as the significance of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
"This was a great opportunity to learn, network and explore ideas with our colleagues, who face similar issues and challenges," said Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, program chair. "We follow these issues regularly in publications online, but there's no better way to improve understanding than by getting together in person."
Courts represented at the conference included Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The event was co-sponsored by the Conference of Chief Justices and the National Center for State Courts. Theresa Owens, executive assistant to the Chief Justice, was program director.
Court Information Officer Amanda Todd served on a panel discussion entitled "Relationships With the Media and the Public" that discussed how courts are responding to the decline in media coverage of the judicial system and how technology is effecting rules on cameras in the courtroom and other issues.
Among other session topics:
- "Surfin' USA: Judges and the Ethics of Internet Research," in which a series of scenarios were presented by Professor Elizabeth Thornburg of the Southern Methodist University (SMU) School of Law, and the justices discussed the ethical implications and appropriate conduct.
- "What's a Little Ethics between Friends, Family and Facebook," where SMU Law School Provost Linda S. Eads led a panel discussion with several justices about how to approach the use of Facebook.
- "New Surveillance Technologies and the Changing Face of Technology," presented by Dr. Gary Marchant, Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies, Law and Ethics at Arizona State University, offered an overview of a wide array of current and emerging devices and applications that are challenging the delicate balance between privacy and accessibility, including wireless communication, GPS location, nanotechnology, biometrics, social media, and domestic drones.
- "Review of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions" led by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California Irvine School of Law, and Dr. John C. Eastman, professor and Donald P. Kennedy Chair in Law, Chapman University School of Law, provided insights on the cases decided and pending review.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson makes remarks during a roundtable discussion on appellate practice and procedure at the Conference of Midwest Supreme Court Justices. Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, Illinois Supreme Court, moderated. Panel members included: Chief Justice Mark S. Cady, Iowa Supreme Court; Justice Rita B. Garman, Illinois Supreme Court; Justice Judith A. Lanzinger, Ohio Supreme Court; and Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., Michigan Supreme Court.
Southern Methodist University Associate Provost Linda S. Eads presents a session on social media during the Conference of Midwest Supreme Court Justices. Panel members for the session included Chief Justice Brent E. Dickson, Indiana Supreme Court; Justice Dale V. Sandstrom, North Dakota Supreme Court; Justice Glen A. Severson, South Dakota Supreme Court; and Justice David S. Wiggins, Iowa Supreme Court.