Standing Committee on the American Judicial System

Protecting judicial independence. Preserving fair and impartial courts. Improving the administration of justice. Ensuring adequate court funding. Defending against unfair attacks on the judicial branch.

The Mission of the Standing Committee

Alan S. Kopit, Cleveland, OH, Chair - The mission of the Standing Committee on the American Judicial System (SCAJS) could not be more important in our current political environment: (i) to protect judicial independence; (ii) to preserve fair and impartial courts: (iii) to respond to unjust criticism of the judiciary and the media; and (iv) to improve access to justice. We accomplish our mission through our publications, which are available on our web site, and through the work of our two subcommittees, described below. Most important, the SCAJS supports efforts to increase public understanding about the role of the judiciary and the importance of fair courts within American democracy.

Subcommittee on Federal Courts

Hon. Shira Scheindlin, New York, NY, Subcommittee Chair - The Subcommittee on Federal Courts studies, monitors and makes recommendations regarding (i) independence of the federal judiciary; (ii) the appropriate compensation for federal judges, (iii) the adequacy of the number of federal judgeships, including authorization of additional judgeships and filling judicial vacancies, and (iv) the adequacy of the funding of the federal judicial system. In addition, the Subcommittee maintains liaison with the federal judiciary and other appropriate government officials and court-related entities to support and improve the fair and effective administration of justice in the federal judicial system. The Subcommittee works with the ABA Governmental Affairs Office and maintains liaison with the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, the Judicial Conference of the United States, the Federal Judicial Center, and other organizations concerned with judicial reform related to the federal judicial system.

Subcommittee on State Courts

Dick Semerdjian, San Diego, CA, Subcommittee Chair - The Subcommittee on State Courts studies, monitors and makes recommendations with respect to state, local, and other non-federal American judicial systems. The Subcommittee supports efforts to increase public understanding of judicial selection and retention methods and to increase informed citizen participation in states where judges are subject to election of any kind. The Subcommittee also makes recommendations regarding appropriate compensation for state and local judges, the creation and filling of needed judgeships, and adequate funding of state and local judicial systems. Finally, the Subcommittee works with state and local courts and bar associations, and maintains liaison with other persons and organizations, concerned with judicial reform related to state courts and judicial selection, with the Conference of Chief Justices, the National Center for State Courts, and with other appropriate government officials and court-related entities.

Defending Justice: Essay on Judicial Indepedence

A joint production of the ABA Journal and the ABA Standing Committee on the American Judicial System. These thoughtful essays delve into fairness, impartiality, access to justice and adherence to the rule of law. Judges and lawyers reflect on the American judicial system, its status in the world and its willingness to address faults honestly.

Rapid Response to Fake News, Misleading Statements, and Unjust Criticism of the Judiciary

The updated version of the Rapid Response to Fake News, Misleading Statements, and Unjust Criticism of the Judiciary is available for download. This booklet serves as a tool to guide bar associations as they prepare for and respond to unjust attacks. This resource will walk you through how to evaluate whether an attack is unjust, whether it requires a response, and how to respond most effectively.

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