Friday, September 18, 2015

Judicial Conference Issues Strategic Plan for Federal Judiciary

The Judicial Conference approved a new Strategic Plan for the Federal Judiciary on September 17, 2015.  If you’ve ever participated in drafting a strategic plan for your law school or other organization, you know the familiar jargon: mission statement, core values, issues, strategies, and goals.  They even had an “Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Group.”  (Federal judges – they’re just like us!)


As a person who has often been involved in strategic planning, I found it a bit disconcerting to see the Judicial Conference adopting the familiar buzzwords.  (I wonder if they had the perennial “what is the darn difference between a strategy and a goal” discussion.)


So here’s the Mission Statement of the federal judiciary:

The United States Courts are an independent, national judiciary providing fair and impartial justice within the jurisdiction conferred by the Constitution and Congress. As an equal branch of government, the federal judiciary preserves and enhances its core values as the courts meet changing national and local needs.   


The core values:

Rule of Law: legal predictability, continuity, and coherence; reasoned decisions made through publicly visible processes and based faithfully on the law

Equal Justice: fairness and impartiality in the administration of justice; accessibility of court processes; treatment of all with dignity and respect

Judicial Independence: the ability to render justice without fear that decisions may threaten tenure, compensation, or security; sufficient structural autonomy for the judiciary as an equal branch of government in matters of internal governance and management

Accountability: stringent standards of conduct; self-enforcement of legal and ethical rules; good stewardship of public funds and property; effective and efficient use of resources

Excellence: adherence to the highest jurisprudential and administrative standards; effective recruitment, development and retention of highly competent and diverse judges and staff; commitment to innovative management and administration; availability of sufficient financial and other resources

Service: commitment to the faithful discharge of official duties; allegiance to the Constitution and laws of the United States; dedication to meeting the needs of jurors, court users, and the public in a timely and effective manner


Then there are “seven issues--fundamental policy questions or challenges that are based on an assessment of key trends affecting the judiciary’s mission and core values”:

Issue 1: Providing Justice

Issue 2: The Effective and Efficient Management of Public Resources

Issue 3: The Judiciary Workforce of the Future

Issue 4: Harnessing Technology’s Potential

Issue 5: Enhancing Access to the Judicial Process

Issue 6: The Judiciary’s Relationships with the Other Branches of Government

Issue 7: Enhancing Public Understanding, Trust, and Confidence


Within each issue are strategies (such as “Strategy 1.1. Pursue improvements in the delivery of justice on a nationwide basis”) and goals (such as “Goal 1.1a: Reduce delay through the work of circuit judicial councils, chief judges, Judicial Conference committees and other appropriate entities”).


I did not find (on quick perusal) any specific mention of the Supreme Court or of cameras in the courtroom, despite “Strategy 7.2: Improve the sharing and delivery of information about the judiciary.”

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