Deeply Honored to Serve

Article excerpt

And so my year as president of this prestigious and important organization comes to a close. It is but one year in nearly a century of AJS's efforts to improve the administration of justice. The American Judicature Society has put its imprint on every major improvement of die American justice system from court unification (o merit-based selection of judges.

Former Justice Award recipient and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice (Ret.) Thomas R. Phillips said that, for judges, "their real constituency is only the law - not political parties, not groups of supporters, not even the popular passions of the moment...'' We need a responsible judicial·)' in order to maintain the balance of power between the branches of government. To gel that responsible judiciary, A)S promoted and urged a merit-based system for the selection of judges since early in our history. Merit selection puts an emphasis on quality and experience and minimizes the role of political, partisan, and special interests. Almost 100 years later, we continue our work in this area. Recently, our Director of Research und Programs, Malia Reddick, conducted scholarly research on judicial selection and the relationship 10 judicial discipline. The results have- given added weight to support this system.

Recent court decisions such as Capcrii.ni and Citizens L'niirtl have underscored the need for AJS's nonpartisan and independent voice. We will redouble our efforts in monitoring two important concepts lei'r intact with these decisions - disclosure and recusal.

We continue to be vigilam on the bedrock issues that form our mission: 10 secure and promote an independent and qualified judiciary and a fair system of justice. AJS joined other like-minded reform groups to urge both the White House and the U.S. Senate to reduce judicial backlogs. We also work to increase [he public's understanding of the justice system Ui rough publications, research, and education. Recently, AJS, partnering with West LegalEd Center, inaugurated on-line access to legal training that is approved for CLE credit. Cindy Gray, Director of AJS's Center for Judicial Ethics, acts as faculty along with oilier experts in various fields of study. This highly regarded AJS Center is a clearinghouse for infornialion about judicial ethics and discipline and responds to hundreds of requests for information yearly. …