The Arkansas Supreme Court has joined 39 other states in adopting a strategic plan for the judiciary. The aims are positive, but I see some obstacles in other branches of government.
In the words of a news release from the court’s administrative office on the work of a 24-person committee:
The plan lays out six goals: fostering judicial independence, improving access to justice, communicating effectively with the public, improving educational opportunities available to the judiciary, embracing technology, and enhancing security.
Here’s the plan.
I was interested in independence in light of the legislature and corporate lobby’s effort in Issue One to take control of rulemaking authority from the Supreme Court. The plan envisions an “equal and independent” branch of government for the judiciary.
To achieve this?
* The courts should act responsibly, adhere to the code of conduct and follow the Constitution.
* Communicate “respectfully” with the public and other branches of government.
* Ensure financial independence. On that, the plan says:
We will work with the legislative and executive branches of government to ensure that the judicial branch can secure adequate funding through sources independent of court costs, fines, and fees.
We will work to ensure that the judicial branch is not dependent on or subject to improper influence from the other branches of government or from private or partisan interests.
With all due respect, I see obstacles. The legislature expects obedience. And the legislature and the executive, hungry for tax cuts for the rich, doesn’t seem currently inclined to increase general support for courts.