A new blueprint urging reform of Indiana’s justice system over the next decade has been devised and presented by the Judicial Conference of Indiana. 2020 Forward is a 20-page document that the conference says should be used as a guideline for the future of the judiciary.
The Judicial Conference Board of Directors is the policy-making board for the judiciary and represents more than 400 trial and appellate court judges across the state, which has voted in favor of the plan that concentrates on several key areas:
- Access to Justice: Take a serious look at race, equity, resources, legal aid, imposition of fines, and jury selection.
- Security: Improve court safety.
- Technology: Embrace technology to more efficiently serve court users.
- Clerk Functions: Pursue improvements to clerk and court operations.
- Court Structure: Simplify the court structure to improve the process.
- Judicial Selection: Adopt more uniform and less partisan methods of selection.
- Centralized Funding: Remove the inefficient and unfair piecemeal approach to paying for courts.
Co-Chairs for the 12-member Strategic Planning Committee are Grant County Circuit Court Judge Mark Spitzer and LaPorte Superior Court Judge Richard Stalbrink Jr., who presented the executive summary to the 46-member Judicial Conference earlier this month.
“We proposed an outline for the future of the Indiana Judiciary which contains ideas central to improving the professionalism, efficiency, and effectiveness of the courts,” explained Judge Spitzer. The message from the white paper working group to our elected judicial representatives was clear, according to Judge Stalbrink, who said, “Our committee intends this document to create discussion and to encourage feedback on ways to improve our judicial system.”
The Judicial Conference unveiled its first strategic plan in 2008, which was entitled A New Way Forward and again in 2010 with The Next Steps to A New Way. The Conference has since seen better collaboration between districts, increased judicial education requirements, and studied workloads and staffing needs among courts, among other improvements.