Statements & Resolutions
In Support of Principles of Effective Judicial Governance and Accountability
WHEREAS, the Conference of Chief Justices has worked to promote effective judicial governance and accountable state Judicial Branch institutions that provide the highest quality of service to the public; and
WHEREAS, the Conference of State Court Administrators has prepared a Position Paper setting forth principles of effective judicial governance and accountability; and
WHEREAS, the failure to be accountable can foster an environment in which the other branches of government and the public do not understand the Judiciary?s role; and in which the other branches are more likely to micro-manage or otherwise diminish the Judiciary?s ability to govern its own affairs, and are more likely to criticize particular decisions of individual judges and courts; and
WHEREAS, state courts cannot achieve effective governance without the capacity to manage their own affairs and develop and implement policies and practices in core areas critical to their administration; and
WHEREAS, by identifying the core elements of judicial accountability, state court systems can present to the public and coordinate branches of government their vision of the Judiciary?s role in our society and articulate clearly the conditions necessary to providing the highest level of service;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Conference of Chief Justices identifies the following core elements of judicial accountability for state court systems. In each of the following areas, courts should assure that:
- Cases are processed and disposed of fairly and expeditiously.
- Comprehensive data on filings, caseloads, case processing standards and goals, and expenditures are collected and made readily available.
- Courts institute processes for continuous self-assessment and improvement, including financial audits.
- The judiciary measures and reports on its performance using credible accountability tools, including court performance standards and measures.
- Modern technological innovations are fully utilized to provide complete, accurate and timely information to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of court adjudicative and administrative functions.
- Written information on individual courts, including their state and local operations and procedures, is widely available through electronic and traditional means.
- All citizens receive equal justice and have equal access to the courts regardless of their backgrounds and economic circumstances.
- Racial, ethnic, gender and other forms of bias, real and perceived, are eliminated from the courts and the entire justice system.
- In designing administrative processes, highest priority is given to the people served. In the development of forms, processes and practices, due consideration is given to consistency among courts to minimize the adverse impact on access, and costs of litigation.
- Litigants involved in court proceedings believe that they have been heard, and understand the decisions of the court.
- Courthouses and courtrooms are accessible, secure, clean, open to all and provide an environment conducive to the administration of justice.
- The public?s tax dollars are expended in a cost-effective manner in accordance with sound fiscal practices.
- Jurors? time is used efficiently, and jurors are treated with dignity, provided with all necessary tools and materials to carry out their responsibilities, and compensated adequately.
- Processes are available that give citizens an opportunity to air complaints regarding the operation of the courts, and that courts are responsive to their concerns.
Fairness and Courtesy
- Judges and court personnel are courteous and knowledgeable.
Time of lawyers, litigants and witnesses is used effectively and due consideration is given to their scheduling needs in developing case assignment and scheduling systems.
- Members of the bar, whose conduct is regulated by the Judiciary, act with competence, professionalism and civility.
- Courts take an active leadership role in fostering positive institutional relationships with the other branches of government and justice system constituencies.
- Assume a more active role in the legislative process on matters affecting court operations and governance, including submission of appropriate legislative proposals.
- Establish inter-branch forums to study and discuss the needs and problems of the courts and other issues of mutual concern.
- Work actively to educate the public, the other branches of government and the media about the Judiciary and its adjudicative and administrative functions.
Adopted as proposed by the Court Management Committee of the Conference of Chief Justices at the 27th Midyear Meeting on January 21, 2004.
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