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Friday
Dec312010

Chief Justice John Roberts Issues Yearly Report on the State of the Judiciary

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his yearly report on the state of the Judiciary released at 6 p.m. on New Years Eve, Chief Justice John Roberts expresses concern that budgetary constraints due to the economic down turn and the "persistent problem" of judicial vacancies are hampering the work of the Judicial Conference to plan for the future.

The Conference -- the federal judiciary's policy-making body -- is made up of all the chief  judges of the federal court of appeals as well as district court judges from each regional circuit. Roberts serves as the presiding officer of the Conference and issues a report annually on Dec. 31.

In the report, the Chief Justice points out that the Conference approved a strategic Plan for the Federal Judiciary last September that identifies long term issues "critical to the future operation of the federal courts" but says that there are "obstacles" obstructing its success.

"There are, however, some immediate obstacles to achieving our goals." Roberts writes, "Two stand out at the beginning of this new year: an economic downturn that has imposed budgetary constraints throughout the government, and the persistent problem of judicial vacancies in critically overworked districts."

Roberts says that "the judiciary’s central objective is, of course, to do justice according to law in every case."  But accomplishing such and objective requires focus on issues such as a court's public resources, its workforce of judges and staff and the rules that provide litigants with reasonable and economical access to the judicial process.

He recognizes the economic down turn and describes  the work that all levels of the Judiciary have done to reduce costs. But he says, "The judiciary’s needs are strikingly modest compared to the government as a whole -- less than two-tenths of one percent of the federal budget for one of the three constitutional branches of government."

"We will strive to reduce costs where possible," Roberts writes, "but we ask in return that our coordinate branches of government continue to provide the financial resources that the courts must have to carry out their vital mission."

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