The Honorable Chief Justice Nathan Coates and Chris Ryan, State Court Administrator, appeared before the committee in accordance with the SMART Act and Joint Rule 25. A copy of the Judicial Branch Powerpoint presentation was handed out to committee members (Attachment I). Chief Justice Coates provided background information about the Judicial Branch and its mission. He explained the current needs of the court and the increased volume and docket. He mentioned the increase in pro se litigants and the number of people on probation. Committee members asked questions about pro se litigants and discussed expanding the use of non-lawyers to help people access the justice system. Committee members asked further questions about magistrates and civil cases. Chief Justice Coates explained diversion and restorative justice programs and problem-solving courts.
Committee members asked questions about probation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and training for probation officers. Other questions were raised about sex offenders on probation and the use of polygraph and plethysmograph tests.
Chief Justice Coates and Mr. Ryan discussed the judicial budget request to increase the number of judges. They expressed concerns about backlog.