A Lookback at the 2019 NACM Annual Conference

The National Association for Court Management held its 2019 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 22-25. The theme of this year’s annual conference was Court and Society: Creating Public Trust Through Engagement and Innovation. The agenda was full of engaging, thought-provoking, and educational sessions.

Before the official conference even began, some attendees were already hard at work. The Board of Directors convened over the weekend to work on ongoing initiatives and make last-minute plans for the annual conference. The Joint Technology Committee convened its second in-person meeting of the year, discussing a long list of white papers they have been working on, as well as projects for the next year. A reception was held for the Early Career Professionals (ECP) and for those attending a NACM conference for the first time. This brought together many experienced individuals in the court profession and NACM with many individuals who were very new to the court management scene.

Monday, July 22

On Monday morning, the president of NACM, Paul DeLosh, officially welcomed the hundreds of attendees to Las Vegas and another spectacular conference. The chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court, Mark Gibbons, and Robin Sweet, state court administrator, Administrative Office of the Nevada Courts, also gave everyone a warm welcome to the state of Nevada. They commended the association for continually working to share experience and knowledge to enhance the profession of court management. The conference continued with a brief presentation about the ECP charity.

In the opening plenary session, Jill Goldsmith, an executive and leadership coach, led Bridging the Gap with People We Serve. Ms. Goldsmith provided a more nuanced understanding of how trust and distrust impact an organization’s effectiveness, along with pragmatic, specific, and “grab-and-go” strategies that could improve the public’s trust in the court system and its staff and minimize the likelihood that distrust grows and gets in the way of success.

At lunch, the annual business began. The business meeting included important topics, such as proposed amendments to the Articles of Incorporation and revisions to the Bylaws. After a detailed presentation on the proposed changes, the membership took an official vote. After an official count, all proposed revisions to the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws successfully passed.

Sessions continued throughout the opening day on topics such as the Family Justice Initiative, artificial intelligence aiding self-represented litigants, an update on the National Opioid Task Force, the role of court communication, enhancement of the performance-appraisal process, and implicit bias. Speakers came from all over the United States to share their views and experience on a wide array of topics.

Tuesday, July 23

NACM conferences are not just about superior educational content. They are also about spending time networking and keeping in shape. Tuesday began with a 6:00 AM bootcamp consisting of squats, lunges, pushups, and burpees! When the official morning events started, it began with the reconvening of the business meeting, which included a report from the Nominations Committee and the recommended slate for the new Board of Directors. Tyler Technologies began the morning with a panel discussion on Modria Online Dispute Resolution in Fulton County, Georgia.

Mark Lanterman presented the afternoon plenary session: Cybersecurity and the Dark Web. The Dark Web poses an increasingly large number of complicated cyber risks. From phishing schemes to high-profile murder cases, the Dark Web now plays a role in aiding criminal activity. Mr. Lanterman provided a tour of the Dark Web and demonstrated its impact on cybercrime. He also discussed best security practices in light of risks presented by the Dark Web.

Attendees ended a long day of incredible sessions with a time to network by the pool of the Bellagio Hotel with food and beverages, sponsored by Linebarger.

Wednesday, July 24

The third day of the conference is always great, as it includes not only good sessions but also NACM committee meetings and the much-anticipated Exhibit Hall. Sessions included an update to the Juvenile Justice Committees (convened face-to-face after a year of conference calls) to discuss matters on the international front, membership ideas, and governance. A new feature offered this year was the Career Fair in which jurisdictions could talk about current and future job opportunities. There was also an exciting raffle drawing for a pair of tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show O. NACM raised over $1,700 through the raffle, with all funds going to conference scholarships! The afternoon ended with several special-interest-group discussions, including engagement with rural court leaders and IT infrastructure.

Thursday, July 25

The week’s momentum came to a high point Thursday as the conference wrapped up. The business meeting convened one last time with the presentation of two NACM awards, the Perkins Award and Award of Merit. Kenneth Pankey of Virginia was presented with the Perkins Award and Mark Weinberg received the Award of Merit. NACM sends a special congratulations to both gentlemen. The NACM/CITOC Court Technology Awards were also presented. Following the awards presentation, the new NACM Board of Directors was introduced and formally sworn in by Chief Judge Christopher Edwards of Georgia. NACM’s president, Paul DeLosh, officially passed the gavel to the new 2019-20 president, Will Simmons.

Attendees were then treated to two final plenaries. Karen Purves helped attendees laugh and learn in the first session, which was filled with the latest solutions in effective communication, based on neuroscience principles. She helped identify words and phrases that may be causing others to subtly feel uncooperative or defensive and provided replacement words to help. Finally, Pierre Quinn, founder of the Cardell Group, closed out another great conference. He noted that many of the most successful leaders in history were not fearless; however, they were courageous. They kept going despite the fears, dangers, and difficulties all around them. When the stakes are high, organizations large and small need their leaders to forge ahead in the middle of uncertainty. In this closing session, attendees were challenged to face their fears, leverage their strengths, and find community as they built the courage to keep going.

It was obvious that there were a lot of people who came together to put on this amazing conference, and all their hard work and dedication truly paid off. Until next year!


Jeffrey M. Tsunekawa is director of research and court services for the Texas Office of Court Administration in Austin. He is the secretary/treasurer of NACM.