In September 2015, the Judicial Conference of the United States issued its updated strategic plan. Likely much to Justice Roberts’ surprise, (but not Justice Alito, who met that month with Supreme People’s Court (SPC) President Zhou Qiang), the plan (or at least the translation of selected sections) is attracting thousands of new readers in China. (likely more than it did in the US) The translation was set out in two 3/4 page articles published in People’s Court Daily in late September. As the translators, headed by Judge He Fan of the SPC, said, “for Chinese judicial reforms, there is no lack of things we can draw on.” They translated all of the major issues set out below (taken directly from the strategic plan) and selected strategies and goals related those issues that resonate with the Chinese judiciary.
As the US transitions to a new president who not only will appoint a Supreme Court justice, but also fill 105 vacancies in the federal courts, the strategic plan provides food for thought for all concerned about if and how justice is delivered around the world.
The federal judiciary is respected throughout America and the world for its excellence, for the independence of its judges, and for its delivery of equal justice under the law.Through this plan, the judiciary identifies a set of strategies that will enable it to continue as a model in providing fair and impartial justice.
The United States Courts are an independent, national judiciary providing fair and impartial justice within the jurisdiction conferred by the Constitution and Congress. As an equal branch of government, the federal judiciary preserves and enhances its core values as the courts meet changing national and local needs.
Equal Justice: fairness and impartiality in the administration of justice; accessibility of court processes; treatment of all with dignity and respect
Judicial Independence: the ability to render justice without fear that decisions may threaten tenure, compensation, or security; sufficient structural autonomy for the judiciary as an equal branch of government in matters of internal governance and management
Accountability: stringent standards of conduct; self-enforcement of legal and ethical rules; good stewardship of public funds and property; effective and efficient use of resources
Excellence: adherence to the highest jurisprudential and administrative standards; effective recruitment, development, and retention of highly competent and diverse judges and staff; commitment to innovative management and administration; availability of sufficient financial and other resources
Service: commitment to the faithful discharge of official duties; allegiance to the Constitution and laws of the United States; dedication to meeting the needs of jurors, court users, and the public in a timely and effective manner.
Issue 1. Providing Justice
How can the judiciary provide justice in a more effective manner and meet new and increasing demands, while adhering to its core values?
Issue 2. The Effective and Efficient Management of Public Resources
How can the judiciary provide justice consistent with its core values while managing limited resources and programs in a manner that reflects workload variances and funding realities?
Issue 3. The Judiciary Workforce for the Future
How can the judiciary continue to attract, develop, and retain a highly competent and diverse complement of judges and staff, while meeting future workforce requirements and accommodating changes in career expectations?
Issue 4. Harnessing Technology’s Potential
How can the judiciary develop national technology systems while fostering the development of creative approaches and solutions at the local level?
Issue 5. Enhancing Access to the Judicial Process
How can courts remain comprehensible, accessible, and affordable for people who participate in the judicial process while responding to demographic and socioeconomic changes?
Issue 6. The Judiciary’s Relationships with the Other Branches of Government
How can the judiciary develop and sustain effective relationships with Congress and the executive branch, yet preserve appropriate autonomy in judiciary governance, management and decisionmaking?
Issue 7. Enhancing Public Understanding, Trust, and Confidence
How should the judiciary promote public trust and confidence in the federal courts in a manner consistent with its role within the federal government?