National Center for State Courts Taking Steps to Combat Foreign Disinformation

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is taking action to counter disinformation campaigns, intended to  erode  public confidence in the U.S. justice system , led by Russia and other foreign entities. Recent disinformation campaigns have inspired the NCSC to organize a series of workshops to help state and local courts push back on such efforts.

From the NCSC:

NCSC is taking a lead role in efforts to combat court-related disinformation campaigns, which NCSC President Mary McQueen has called “the biggest attacks that we’ve seen on the judicial system.” This year, NCSC has held seven workshops, including two this month, to train court professionals to recognize disinformation campaigns and counteract them. The virtual workshops have been supported by the State Justice Institute.

“Disinformation campaigns directed toward the judiciary cause a crisis of confidence that trickles down to the smallest court in the smallest state,” said Janet Bancroft, public information officer for Nebraska’s Administrative Office of the Courts. “These campaigns harm all of us.”

Bancroft said a key takeaway from the NCSC workshop she attended was the importance of creating a response plan and committing to it in writing rather than working from crisis to crisis.”

Concurrent to the NCSC’s own programs, the Arizona Supreme Court created a special task force to pursue recommendations on how courts can best respond to instances of disinformation. You can find a summary of their report HERE. The steps the recommend for courts include:

  • Establish in-person and web-based court contacts and outreach to help the public and the media understand the role of the court and the function of the judicial branch, and to help counteract and respond to disinformation at the local level.
  • Monitor technology and resources that can identify disinformation campaigns early enough to counter them with accurate information and gather public contact information to improve courts’ outreach and responsiveness.

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