What Does the Public Think of Courts

For several years, the National Center for State Courts has contracted with GBA Strategies to conduct a comprehensive public opinion survey of 1,000 registered voters.

This year, the survey was conducted by telephone between November 14-17, 2016. For those who care about courts, the National Center’s survey is a must read. Survey findings are considered accurate within  +/- 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • There are signs of positive momentum in public trust. This comes at a time when trust in government in general is fractured.
  • There is a glaring lack of understanding about court funding which is reflective of misconceptions about government spending generally.
  • The public seems willing to support reform of the practice of imposing fines and fees on poor defendants.
  • The public believes that the ethnicity of a judge may impact fairness. Prior polling by other organizations has found that to a moderate or significant extent the public believes judges make decisions based upon their own personal or political views.

For more detail on the survey findings, download the presentation slides.

The NCSC also surveyed public opinion in previous years, and has archived the 2015 and 2014 survey results.


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