Competency Public Trust and Confidence
Maintaining the public’s trust and confidence in the courts is integral to the credibility of the judicial branch. This trust cannot be assumed. The court must establish and nurture public trust through its core responsibility of resolving disputes. The court process must not only be just, it must-have the appearance of being just. Public perceptions of the court system are largely formed by the experiences of individual parties in individual cases, all looking to the court for prompt and fair resolution of their disputes. Guided by the principles of procedural fairness, courts can enhance public trust and confidence by treating every party — plaintiffs, victims and defendants alike — with dignity and respect, and explaining the court process and court rulings in a timely matter. Trust and confidence are further enhanced through the transparent and consistent application of court procedures, timely resolution of court cases and providing public information regarding the court processes, court services and mechanisms for accessing them.
Court leaders help promote and maintain public trust and confidence by creating organizational cultures that foster integrity, transparency and accountability for court processes and operations.
The degree to which the judicial branch can promote the rule of law and protect individual rights is, in large part, determined by the respect of the public for its authority. As noted above, court leaders should strive to promote public trust and confidence in courts by creating and promoting an organizational culture that fosters integrity, transparency and accountability for all court processes and proceedings.
Ensuring public trust and confidence in the court, regardless of the court’s jurisdiction and/or environment in which it functions, requires all court leaders to carry out their function(s) in a manner that promotes the following:
- On-going provision of information to the public to ensure understanding of the court process, services available and methods for accessing them.
- Responsiveness to the multiple cultures, languages and special populations who utilize court services, including but not limited to individuals with disabilities, and those with limited literacy or English proficiency.
- Easily accessible assistance for self-represented litigants to help them navigate the judicial process. 1
- Regular reports to the public summarizing court workload and relevant measures relating to the efficiency and fairness with which it has been handled.
- “There is a “unity of interest between the courts and the public with respect to assistance for self-represented litigants. Lack of legal assistance is clearly an enormous barrier for the public. It also creates a structural gap for courts, which are designed to work with litigants who are represented by attorneys. Managing cases involving self-represented litigants is a daily business event at every level of court operations — from filing through calendaring, records, management and courtroom hearings.” “Statewide Action Plan for Serving Self-Represented Litigants,” Judicial Conference of California, February 27, 2013. See also: Core Competency: Ensuring Performance of Other Essential Components. ↩