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Judicial Concerns Resolutions


RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, judicial excellence depends on a highly qualified applicant pool from which judges are selected, the experience and knowledge attained through lengthy judicial tenures, and the maintenance of judicial autonomy and independence, and

WHEREAS, judicial compensation is critical to obtaining qualified applicants, retaining experienced judges and promoting judicial independence, and

WHEREAS, at some state and local levels judicial salaries are inadequate, and

WHEREAS, judges should not perpetually have to travel to the executive branch and the legislative branch, to argue their case for judicial salary increases, and

WHEREAS, state or community judicial commissions can ameliorate each of the previously mentioned fundamental concerns,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, RESOLVED, that the American Judges Association, at its annual meeting this 25th day of September, 1997 at Anchorage, Alaska, calls upon the various state executive and legislative branches of government to create judicial salary commissions to regularly address and enact appropriate increases in judicial salaries to assure qualified applicants, retain experienced judges, and promote judicial independence,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to the Governors, the Speakers of the Assembly and the Presidents of the Senate in the thirty-three states without judicial commissions and to any county or municipal government upon request of any member of the American Judges Association.

Adopted September 25, 1997
Judge Jeffrey Rosinek, President
AJA Resolutions Committee
Gregory Barlow
Paul Beighle
Seymore Brown
Ann Pugh
Ira J. Raab, Chair

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Resolution on Access to Justice and Protection of the Rights of People

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, THE PROTECTION OF RIGHTS AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE are inherent rights of all people; and

WHEREAS, without access to the justice system, there is no justice, and the freedoms we celebrate today would be nothing but words;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Judges Association hereby declares that protection of rights and access to justice of people who are poor, elderly, or with disabilities, are major goals that all judges and lawyers should seek to provide and protect; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the American Judges Association encourages the development of ways and means of implementing the above goals, through activities that will improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice, for all people, and more particularly the poor, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

Adopted September 25, 1997
Judge Jeffrey Rosinek, President
AJA Resolutions Committee
Gregory Barlow
Paul Beighle
Seymore Brown
Ann Pugh
Ira J. Raab, Chair

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RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, court reporters are officers of the court whose impartiality, as with judges, must remain utterly beyond question in order to ensure the enduring confidence and faith from which our judicial system derives its legitimacy; and

WHEREAS, some court reporting firms are contracting directly with the parties in interest in litigation, thereby circumventing counsel and their related ethical obligations to the courts; and

WHEREAS, those arrangements allow the parties in interest to directly control the terms and conditions of the court reporting services in a manner sometimes indistinguishable from an employer-employee relationship; and

WHEREAS, certain of these contracting arrangements require court reporters to provide special services to the paying party in interest that are not available to the opposing parties in the litigation; and

WHEREAS, the National Court Reporters Association has adopted a resolution to lobby at the state and federal level, and work with its affiliated organizations and coalitions at the state level, to seek the enactment of laws and court rules that will limit or prohibit contracting arrangements in order to maintain the impartiality and independence of court reporters in their capacity as officers of the court; and

WHEREAS, numerous states (including, Hawaii, Georgia, Utah, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, West Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Alabama, Massachusetts, Montana, Rhode Island, and Ohio) have recently enacted or are considering laws or court rules that prohibit or strictly regulate contracting arrangements between parties in interest in litigation and court reporters to ensure the impartiality of the court reporting profession specifically and the integrity of the courts generally;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the American Judges Association endorses legislative and judicial efforts to prevent parties in interest from establishing any direct financial or other relationships with court reporters which could create an appearance of partiality that is inimical to the publicís faith in the fairness and impartiality of the judicial system.

Unanimously adopted April 24, 1998
Portland, Oregon
Judge Shirley Strickland-Saffold, President
AJA Resolutions Committee
Judge Ira J. Raab, Chair
Judge Seymore Brown, Co-Chair
Judge Pearle Appelman
Judge Paul Beighle
Judge George Greig
Judge Ann Pugh

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Resolution on Court Security

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, Court Security or the absence thereof, is a serious problem facing federal, state and local courts of all jurisdictions; and

WHEREAS, the media has reported on numerous breaches of court security that resulted in serious injury and death; and

WHEREAS, the safety of spectators, lawyers, court staff and judges is of primary concern of all judges;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the President, Officers and the Executive Committee of the American Judges Association, with a membership of 3,200 judges of all jurisdictions, at its Tucson, Arizona, Executive Committee meeting, urges President William J. Clinton, the state governors, the chief justices, the leaders of the federal and state legislatures and other responsible funding agencies to increase funding to provide court security for those court facilities that have no security programs, and to improve court security for those courts which already have limited court security programs in place.

Duly Adopted, January 10, 1998
Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold, President
Officers & Executive Committee
AJA Resolutions Committee
Judge Paul Beighle
Judge James Heupel
Judge Ira J. Raab, Chair

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To Support Portability Of Pension Assets

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, the portability of pension assets is important to the ability of the judiciary to attract qualified people to the bench;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the AJA supports the effort to increase the portability of pension assets and instructs staff to take the necessary steps to involved the association in the effort.

Adopted September 4, 1998
Judge Paul Beighle, President
State-Federal Relations Committee
Judge Patricia Blackmon
Judge Douglas Voss
Judge Ron Garvin
Judge Toni Higginbotham
Judge Howard Kaufman
Judge Ira Raab
Judge Andrea Salas
Judge Anthony Sciarretta
Judge Chris Williams

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A Resolution to Adopt an Equal Access and Equal Treatment Policy for Court Users and Court Personnel

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, The Judicial Branch has the responsibility to treat all people with fairness and equality under the law, to preserve and protect equal justice, to comply with state/provincial judicial canons and ethical considerations, and to promote the publicís trust and confidence in the Courts and Justice system. And the Judgesí of the American Judges Association, the only North American organization of Judges, desires to take a leadership role in creating bias-free court environments in furtherance of these responsibilities; and 

WHEREAS, Thirty seven States have adopted Access to Justice Commissions or Equivalent, the National Center for State Courts has adopted A Pocket Guide for the Courts on Achieving Fairness Through Bias-Free Behavior, the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts has adopted a policy regarding the Courts, the Conference of State Court Administrators passed a Resolution affirming support for the National Consortiumís policy, the American Bar Associationís Commission on the 21st Century Judiciary prepared a Report addressing the role of the Judges in fairness and impartiality, the National Legal Aid Defender Association has a Project entitled Justice for All stressing the need for fairness and diversity in the Courts; National Conference on Court-Related Needs of the Elderly and persons with Disabilities 8/91; and the Conference of Chief Justices adopted a Resolution entitled Leadership to promote Equal Justice setting forth the need for the Judicial Branch to provide a leadership role to ensure equal access and equal justice to the justice system; and

WHEREAS, The American Judgesí Association adopted a Resolution on Access to Justice and Protection of the Rights of People on September 25, 1997 and in furtherance of the goals stated therein conducted a workshop entitled Access to Justice and Equal Treatment in the Courts for Court Users and Court Employees on May 13, 2005 where it reviewed all of the existing written policies addressing both Equal Access and Equal Treatment issues and determined that there is no one comprehensive judicial policy addressing these issues; and

WHEREAS, Contemporary research, data and surveys indicate lack of access to the Courts by the poor, aged, disabled and limited English Court users and that women, people of color and gay and lesbian Court users and Court personnel experience bias in the courts and are not treated with equality.

WHEREAS, Research, surveys and data reveal that the populations of the United States and Canada are increasing with people of color, elderly and disabled; that Minorities in the United States are more likely to be in the criminal court system as they are more likely to be arrested and charged with a crime; and that the available court workforce in the United States and Canada will be shrinking within the next decade and that a bias-free work environment will assist the court as an employer with retention and recruitment of court employees. 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the American Judges Association in furthering the goals of Equal Access and Equal Treatment for Court Users and Court Personnel will do the following:

  1. Appeal to local, specialty and state bar associations to establish, expand and support a voluntary pro bono system or affordable legal services for the poor, aged, disabled and limited English Court Users for their legal, administrative and court issues consistent with the AJA Resolution of 1997.

  2. Encourage attorneys, law firms and corporate employers to promote and support the involvement of associates and partners in pro bono and public service activities consistent with the ABA Policy on Legislative and National Issues Resolution of 8/88.

  3. Join and partner with national and state organizations as enumerated herein to identify existing programs and explore available funding with the objective of coordinating efforts and consolidating resources in legal matters related to the poor, aged, disabled and limited English Court Users. 

  4. Encourage Judicial Departments and Legislative bodies to secure long-term, sustained, and permanent funding for legal aid for the poor, aged and financially vulnerable persons.

  5. Join and partner with national and state organizations as enumerated herein to expand the types of assistance available to self-represented litigants, including exploring the role of non-attorneys as resolved by the Conference of Chief Justices

  6. Encourage Judicial Departments to provide and pay reasonable costs of any necessary auxiliary aids or services for Court Users, including but not limited to, interpreters for the hearing impaired and limited English proficiency, and accommodations for the physically and mentally disabled and aged in accordance with the American with Disabilities Act as directed by the Supreme Court of Colorado and as recommended by the National Conference on Court-Related Needs of the Elderly and persons with Disabilities.

  7. Educate the AJA Members on issues of Access to Justice and Equal Treatment by incorporating a cultural competency component into educational programs.

  8. Educate the AJA Members on how to recognize bias and its manifestations, how to take a role to eliminate bias in the Courts, how to ensure bias-free communication and behavior, how to institutionalize fairness and how to demonstrate respect, fairness and neutrality as detailed in the NCSC Pocket Guide for the Courts.

  9. Encourage all Court Personnel to increase their awareness of Access to Justice and Equal Treatment issues and to enhance the leadership skills necessary for an effective Court services environment. 

  10. Endorse the implementation of local Court Personnel policies and practices to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender, color, age, religion, language and sexual orientation in the workplace in association with those associations and organizations enumerated herein. 

  11. Endorse training and education programs for Court Personnel that would eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender, color, age, religion, language and sexual orientation in the workplace. 

  12. Recommend that the Judicial Branch take primary responsibility for providing continuing legal education, that continuing judicial education be required for all judges, and that state appropriations be sufficient to provide adequate funding for continuing judicial education as recommended by the Report of the ABA Commission on the 21st Century Judiciary

Adopted 2005

 
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