John Adams said,
“Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty.”
He and the other Founders wisely set up a system of accountability through the “checks and balances” provided by three co-equal branches of government. And they sealed the deal with the passage of the Bill of Rights, specifically the 6th and 7th Amendments, which provide the right to trial by jury.
Today, our cherished system of fairness and accountability is in jeopardy, because those who have the power to fund our nation’s courts are not doing it. That’s neither equitable nor fair.
State courts typically receive less than one percent of a state’s budget. Yet, these courts are handling the majority of cases in this country – about 95 percent.
The resulting lack of funding for our courts has severely impacted justice from coast to coast.
When courtrooms have to close early, or do not open at all, that means decisions and answers for life’s most pressing questions are on hold.
Divorces, custody, housing disputes, estate issues, consumer, and health issues… all of these life-altering events require our courts to be open and available to everyone.
Without our courts, justice is denied.
If we want justice and accountability to endure in this country, we must do whatever it takes to restore our judiciary.
I want to thank the American Bar Association (ABA) for focusing on this critical issue. The American Association for Justice (AAJ) supports your efforts.
In addition, this summer numerous trial lawyers and their state organizations will be supporting the Pound Civil Justice Institute's Forum for State Appellate Court Judges, whose topic will be:
Justice Isn't Free: The Court Funding Crisis and Its Remedies.
With enough of us working together on this issue, I hope we will find solutions and achieve results that will confirm our commitment to justice and enable our Constitutional Democracy to flourish.