|Oregon State Bar Bulletin MAY 2012|
New Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Balmer begins his tenure with a list of goals for improving the state of the judicial system. But he doesn’t plan to tackle it alone. Balmer hopes to mobilize local lawyers through state and local bars to help carry the banner for the judicial system.
“Every legislator lives in a community with lawyers and judges. When local lawyers and local judges tell their legislators what’s happening in our circuit courts — that there are cases we can’t get to as quickly as we should and there are judgments waiting to be filed and restraining order applications waiting to be reviewed — it will have a much greater effect than a news release issued from the State Court Administrator’s Office,” he says.
With that in mind, check out what the chief justice has planned:
1a) Secure adequate funding from the Legislature to restore an open and accessible court system, one of the core functions of government. “With reduced courthouse hours and full-day closures, Oregon is slipping in meeting its constitutional obligation to administer justice ‘completely and without delay,’” Balmer warns.
1b) Continue and institutionalize the Judicial Department’s efforts to be more efficient, using technology, best practices and sharing efficiencies and resources throughout the state.
2) Successfully shepherd the full implementation of Oregon e-Court. The “electronic courthouse,” powered by Tyler Technologies’ Odyssey system, will launch in June 2012 in Yamhill County, followed by Linn, Crook/Jefferson, Jackson and Multnomah counties the following year. Additional rollout will be completed on a regional basis throughout the state, contingent on legislative funding.
3) Address judicial compensation. “Oregon remains near the bottom of the 50 states in judicial compensation and the gap between judicial pay and that of senior public sector lawyers, not to mention those in the private sector, is large and continues to grow. That pay deferential deters many qualified candidates from serving on the bench,” Balmer points out.