National Center for State Courts 2017 Civics Education Contest for Grades 3-12

Information and signup here here.


In recognition of Law Day, May 1, 2017, the National Center for State Courts is sponsoring a contest for elementary, middle school, and high school students. The contest entries will be divided into three groups: 3rd-5th graders, 6th-8th graders and 9th-12th graders.

Each grade group is encouraged to answer the following essay question:
What does it mean to be a U.S. citizen?

Rules for essay contest:
* Entries must be 100 words or less.
* Entries must be typed and submitted in the form below.


  • One first place winner in each age group will receive a $100 Amazon gift card and a class set of Justice Case Files graphic novels.

  • One second place winner in each age group will receive a $50 Amazon gift card and a class set of Justice Case Files graphic novels.

  • One third place winner in each age group will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and a class set of Justice Case Files graphic novels.


Friday, February 24, 2017.

Voting & Judging

First, second, and third place winners from each grade level will be selected by NCSC staff members and judges from around the country based on creativity, originality, overall quality and adherence to the theme. The winners will be notified by e-mail or phone by April 28, 2017. Winning entries may be shared on NCSC’s social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Vimeo), as well as NCSC publications and websites.

Official Rules & Guidelines

Please be advised that by submitting an essay, parents give NCSC permission to use essays online or in print publications. Read the Official Rules and Guidelines.



Election 2016: Extended coverage on the 4 ballot items up for a vote this November – podcasts and videos and publications (oh my!)

I’ll be discussing the 4 ballot items on the ballot that affect the courts here on the blog, but I’ve recorded/published several items that readers might be interested in.

For fans of paper (or at least PDF) I wrote this for NCSC’s new Trends: Close Up publication.

I recorded this item for the newest NCSC video series call Court Buzz.

For those who like podcasts, I also did this podcast for NCSC’s other (relatively) new product/podcast series called Court Talk.

For fourth year in a row Gavel to Gavel named an ABA Journal Top 100 law blog!


I just received word that for the fourth year in a row Gavel to Gavel the blog has been named one of the ABA Journal Top 100 Blawgs (law blogs). It is an incredible honor and it (literally) could not have happened without the support of you, the readers. Thanks!

I also want to thank LexisNexis, which provides the access to the legislative database that is the backbone of Gavel to Gavel.

Happy Birthday! Now get out: my new article in Judicature about legislation affecting mandatory judicial retirement ages

For those interested I’ve got a piece in the latest issue of Judicature on legislation to increase or remove mandatory retirement ages for judges.

Call for Submissions: Trends in State Courts

Submissions for the 2016 Trends in State Courts are now being accepted. Trends is the only publication of its kind and enjoys a wide circulation among the state court community. It is distributed in hard copy and electronically. Please email abstracts of no more than 500 words by October 15, 2015 to Deborah Smith at Abstracts received after this date are welcome and will be considered for inclusion in our monthly online edition. Visit the Trends in State Courts website at