The National Center for State Courts has an archive of 2011, 2010, and previous years State of the Judiciary addresses located here.
Chief Justice Randall Shepard delivered his 25th and final State of the Judiciary address last week. Chief Justice Shepard’s address is one of the only State of the Judiciary speeches in the nation to be constitutionally based (Art. 7, Sec 3)
The Chief Justice shall have prepared and submit to the General Assembly regular reports on the condition of the courts and such other reports as may be requested.
However unlike in recent years it does not appear a formal concurrent resolution inviting the Chief Justice to deliver it was adopted (compare HCR 1 of 2011, HCR 20 of 2010, HCR 5 of 2009, HCR 4 of 2008).
Highlights of the Chief Justice’s speech (full text here) below the jump
I’m always mindful that the Constitution calls on me to report on the state of the whole judiciary, all 400 of Indiana’s courts, a report on the larger enterprise that is moving from yesterday to tomorrow.
As for the judicial branch, when children went to court in the old days, too often no one really spoke for them because the parents were so focused on their own conflict. Today, Indiana’s courts have people who speak just for the best interests of the child—sometimes lawyers, but more often volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocates, CASAs for short.
State and local ingenuity have produced a different world: 49 certified drug courts, highly professional probation departments with the time and tools to monitor felons who number in the tens of thousands, 56 court drug and alcohol programs, the first veterans courts, delinquency projects run jointly with school corporations and the social work community, and the new risk assessment tools that help identify the most effective sanction for individual offenders.
On a basic matter like deciding what evidence is admissible in court, for 175 years Indiana employed a system derived from the ancient common law, using appellate court opinions to specify how to submit evidence—how to establish that a document is genuine, what is hearsay and what is not. People confronted with these issues had to search thousands of pages of opinions for guidance…We’ve now replaced those millions of words with the Indiana Rules of Evidence, just 24 pages covering everything from the definition of hearsay to when you need the original of a document and when a copy will suffice.
Indiana became a state where lawyers have to complete continuing legal education because lawyers thought it would be good for them and for clients. The Indiana State Bar Association’s original proposal left out judges, but judges insisted that we should impose on ourselves whatever we required of lawyers.
This [increased citation of Indiana decisions in other states] is, of course, grounds for professional pride, and it’s probably one reason why more people are voting in retention elections than ever before. But there’s a much more important reason. It is the value in the public sector of what George Will recently called “reasoned judgment.” Whether the disputes people bring to us are thoughtfully and honestly decided according to facts and law is crucial to a free society.