Archive for December 22nd, 2017

Have We Learned Nothing from Ferguson?

posted by Judge_Burke @ 16:20 PM
December 22, 2017

Apparently the US Department Administration did not. There is a story in The New York Times today:  Justice Dept. Revokes 25 Legal Guidance Documents Dating to 1975. Among these legal guidance documents was the Department of Justice’s advice in response to Ferguson and the imposition of fines and fees.

Throughout our country there are far too many fines and fees that are not just unfair to the poor, they ultimately undermine the perception that judges are fair. With the decline in trust in government institutions, courts need to be vigilant that of the three branches of government, the judiciary’s power (and independence) comes from the public’s trust in the fairness of judges. Leadership on this must now come from state courts and individual judges willing to say, “I will not do this anymore.” In effect, fines and fees have transformed the halls of justice into for-profit courts.


What Does the Public Think of Judges & Courts?

posted by Judge_Burke @ 15:30 PM
December 22, 2017

For the fourth consecutive year the National Center for State Courts contracted with GBA Strategies to conduct a comprehensive public opinion survey of 1,000 registered voters in order to gauge current levels of public trust and confidence in the state courts.  

The survey was conducted by telephone between October 30-November 1, 2017.  Survey findings are considered accurate within  +/- 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20.

Key findings of the 2017 survey include:

  • After several years of survey work, we see consistency emerging on core questions of public trust and confidence.
  • Judges are perceived as out of touch with community concerns, and the public seeks greater engagement from the courts.
  • Access to justice in rural areas is a concern for many—especially those in the South and Southwest.
  • The justice system is still seen as too complicated to allow for self-representation—but the public can identify specific customer service challenges and simple solutions to remedy this.


For more detail on the survey findings, read this six-page summary from GBA Strategies, or download the presentation slides. Interested in a presentation on these survey findings? Contact Jesse Rutledge.