As stated in last week’s article, the present task is to decide who has a better game plan for the future of our local legal system -- Bulletins or the local chief -- The Chief Justice of the Oregon State Supreme Court?
Here, in a nutshell are the State Supreme Court’s aspirations for the next four years:
- Access: Ensure access to court services for all people
2. Trust and Confidence: Earn the public’s enduring trust and confidence.
3. Dispute Resolution: Help people choose the best way to resolve their disputes.
4. Partnerships: Build strong partnerships with local communities to promote public safety and quality of life.
5. Administration: Make courts work for people.
OK. Anything wrong so far? As one strategic planner (hired, but ignored by the Oregon State Bar Association) stated it, “How do you know when you get there?” That is, goals must have a measuring device to tell you whether or not you achieved your stated goal. See any there in 1-5 above? How will the Chief or the public know if and when the Oregon Supreme Court has successfully fulfilled their goals at the end of 2013?
Here, in a nutshell are Bulletin’s aspirations for the next four years:
1. SIMPLE LAWS -- The law should be simply stated on all subjects, predictable and easily available to anyone including ordinary citizens; not just convenient to lawyers.
2. DISPUTE RESOLUTION SYSTEMS FREE OF BUREAUCRACY -- There should be dispute-resolution forums available to the public that are free of bureaucracy and legal trappings.
3. EFFICIENT COURT SYSTEMS -- If a dispute cannot be resolved in public dispute-resolution forums then case disposition should be through efficient, objective hearings marked by common sense and evidentiary rules that allows the truth to emerge through predictable, routine application of the law to the facts.
4. JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS -- A judiciary that is competent, fair, free of bias, regularly publicly evaluated by citizens and lawyers through the Internet or in systems already available in every local area throughout the United States including Oregon (See www.therobingroom).
5. TAKE THE PROFIT OUT OF THE LEGAL BUSINESS AND PUT BACK IN FAIRNESS AND JUSTICE -- Lawyers and paralegals should be motivated by justice and fairness rather than greed, power (never underestimate the motivation for power) and expensive advocacy. The movie Michael Clayton would be required viewing for all lawyers who aspire to work downtown.
6. A PUBLIC FORUM -- Bar Associations dedicated to serve the general public rather than the legal-power elite.
OK, now let’s make the Bulletin’s game plan measurable, so we know when we get there; to the stated goals!
- Simple Laws -- The Oregon Law Commission is in charge of state legal reform of the laws. I am going to send this to them to see what they think. I have checked with the Oregon legislature and they are committed to making new laws simpler. I will follow up with them to see if it is happening. This is a huge, but worthwhile task.
- Alternate Dispute Resolution Systems -- available to everyone free of bureaucracy. Oregon did away with the state coordinating body for mediations and arbitration systems in 2004. It is time to get a statewide central coordinating body back in business and get the Oregon Supreme Court committed to expanding alternate dispute resolutions systems rather than expanding court systems.
- Efficient Court Systems -- The current system tracks quantity. Now we need to track quality. This project must be headed by the Chief Court Administrator.
- Judicial Performance Evaluations (JPE) -- Recommended by the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors in 2004, by the American Bar Association in 2005, rejected by the Oregon Supreme Court in 2006, it is time to ensure that all judges adhere to The Rule of Law. A JPE package has been delivered by Bulletins to the State Supreme Court, the Oregon Legislature, to the Oregon State Bar and here in 2009.
- Take Greed out of the Justice System: -- There is a powerful organization in Oregon that is perfect to take on this project: Oregon’s Bench/Bar Professionalism Commission. This project will be submitted to them. And we all have to watch the movies Michael Clayton, The Verdict, A Civil Action and Cary Grant in the movie, The Talk of the Town.
- A Public Forum -- It is time that the Oregon State Bar Association hold an open house for the public in their new $20 million dollar building located, in all places?, Tigard, Oregon. May Day should be the focus of opening up our legal systems to everyday people. We should open up our law offices, our court staffs, our local bar associations and put local lawyers on TV to answer the public’s questions.
Now, we will take the goals as stated by the Oregon Supreme Court and discuss them one by one. Next week, Access will be the subject. Who has the better plan is the challenge?