Wednesday, January 26, 2011

American Judicature Society's Special Committee on the Effects of the Economy on the Judiciary

As I have written about numerous times HERE and HERE, the State of Hawai'i is having budget issues (to put it mildly).  The annual budget meeting was a few weeks ago and my judge was in charge of reporting what the judiciary was feeling with respect to budget cuts and furlough days.  When I say it was my judge's job, I think we all know what that means.

My judge drafted a survey that consisted of only four questions...presumably because most lawyers are too self-important to be bothered by such non-sense as answering a few survey questions.  Anyway, I found the responses pretty interesting if simplistically obvious.  The four questions, which were sent out to the 82 judges sitting on the Family Courts, Circuit Courts, Intermediate Court of Appeals, and Hawaii Supreme Court (all state court judges) were:

1. Has your decision-making been impaired by judiciary budget cuts? If so, please explain.

2. Are you able to perform your duties so that your conduct and performance are not subject to undue pressures or criticism? If not, please explain.

3. Do you believe that budget cuts have impinged on the courts' effectiveness? If so, please explain.

4. Have the cutbacks impacted judicial independence? If so, please explain.

21 judges responded to the survey (25% response rate) and then we summarized their answers so my judge could present the findings to the American Judicature Society.  The results of the survey were used to help the Judiciary develop it's annual report on the State of the Judiciary.  In fact, today Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald delivered his first State of the Judiciary Address using a lot of the facts and figures found in the survey and report.

The report - entitled Justice in Jeopardy (pdf copy of the report) - echoes a lot of what I've written about here before - furloughs suck.  The Judiciary report sums it up a little more eloquently, though by saying "these reductions have had substantial negative effects throughout the judicial system, by reducing, delaying and in some cases eliminating important services. Notably, Hawaii’s families and most vulnerable citizens have been significantly impacted."  The report went on to discuss budget cuts by saying, "Adequately funding the state court system is an investment in justice, and an investment in our democracy that should not be compromised even during tough economic times."

No comments:

Post a Comment