ABOTA issues white paper on threat to America's courts

 The American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), an organization dedicated to the preservation of a fair and impartial judiciary and the right to trial by jury, recently released a white paper, “Preserving a Fair, Impartial and Independent Judiciary.” The white paper addresses a rapid convergence of challenges that threaten to impair Americans’ treasured right to even-handed justice.

The American justice system — with its reliance on the rule of law, neutral judges and citizen juries — dramatically reinvented the legal realm more than 225 years ago based upon egalitarian principles. Recent history has shown increasingly frequent episodes in which judges, seeking to perform their duty to enforce the constitution and laws, have been subjected to unwarranted public criticism.

ABOTA offers this white paper to examine why political and special interest interference, including the skyrocketing costs of judicial elections, is detrimental to the judicial process. The paper also addresses how the lack of judicial funding is impacting the efficient administration of justice. It concludes with key strategies to assure that the judiciary can perform its duty as a separate and equal branch of government.

“The principle of fair and impartial courts is designed to protect the system of justice and the rule of law, thus maintaining public trust and confidence in the courts,” said Michael T. Callahan, ABOTA national president. “America’s ability to allow juries to decide cases and judges to make rulings according to the rule of law — even if those decisions are politically unpopular or opposed by powerful interests — is the lifeblood of our democracy.”

Preserving the quality and independence of the judiciary has been a hallmark of ABOTA’s efforts for decades, Callahan said. “Confidence in our nation’s judicial system is profoundly important. ABOTA provides a timely explanation to the public when a judge is unfairly criticized.”

Callahan added that over the years ABOTA has urged Congress to increase pay for justices, judges and their support staffs, and to change the procedures for adjusting future compensation.

“The key to judicial independence is avoiding improper influence on any court from the other two branches of government or from private or partisan interests,” he continued.

A copy of the white paper, “Preserving a Fair, Impartial and Independent Judiciary,” is available at www.abota.org.


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