The National Center for State Courts has an archive of 2011, 2010, and previous years State of the Judiciary addresses located here.
Through an unnumbered report adopted by both the House and Senate, the South Dakota legislature met in joint session on Wednesday for the purposes of hearing the State of the Judiciary Address of Chief Justice David Gilbertson.
Highlights of the Chief Justice’s speech (full text here) included:
We need our judges and employees to be able to maintain adequate contact with each other, our central judicial administration in Pierre, and other state agencies. Some software programs we currently use date from the early 1980’s and can no longer reliably be maintained. At the end of the implementation period in 2015, all UJS programs should be up-to-date and electronic filing a reality.
Cameras in Trial Courts
The Supreme Court has the matter under active consideration using the committee’s report and public input as a guide.
The issue of governmental services provided to those not fluent in English is one of intense discussion across our nation. The courts are constitutionally mandated to allow an accused to present an adequate defense to a criminal charge. How do you defend what you cannot understand?
Our efforts to promote the breaking of the cycle of addiction and criminal activity continue…We are very pleased with the positive results the programs are achieving.
Court Protection of Seniors
This issue is quickly becoming a national priority and South Dakota should definitely become more aggressive in its protection of its senior citizens. This is a problem the judiciary as well as others need to address. There have been, however, no substantive moves to do so.
The Vanishing Attorney in Rural Areas
Despite this unemployment, the availability of attorneys in rural and reservation areas continues to decline. We face the very real possibility of whole sections of this state being without access to legal services.
Access to the Courts by the Underprivileged
We have an increasing number of our citizens who cannot afford to hire an attorney even if one is available in their area. Yet these citizens need and deserve access to our courts. We have worked with the Access to Justice Program of the State Bar to encourage attorneys to provide free legal services to those who need them.
While juvenile probation increased in 2008–2009 in this state by 20% and adult probation by 14%, funds were not available to increase the number of qualified court services officers to supervise them.
Courthouse Security and Improvements
Another area of concern is a lack of security at many of our courthouses. While several have adequate security, many others do not.
CSI: South Dakota
Increasingly trials involve the use of scientific principles. It is popularized in the media by television shows such as “CSI: Miami.” Those of us in the judiciary, who avoided as many science classes as possible while completing our education, are now faced with the task of determining what evidence and witnesses are qualified to assist a jury by testifying on scientific methods.
The UJS Budget
Returning to the economic situation for a moment, last year the UJS assisted state government in balancing its budget by cutting the UJS budget…We have obligations which must be met no matter what the fiscal climate. We are mandated to promptly provide hearings after arrest and speedy trials to those who stand accused of crimes. The same demand for prompt hearings also applies to civil proceedings such as domestic protection orders…I do come today offering some judicial bargains. We have proven that drug courts save taxpayers money over other alternatives while getting long term goals accomplished. Drug courts in this nation have a success rate of approximately 75%…Perhaps one of the biggest bargains in state government is probation. Probation for first time offenders costs $3.00 per day compared to the cost of incarceration which is $63.69 per day.
Sometimes in the pile of balance sheets and income projections I fear we lose track of the bottom line. To me it is not a dollar figure but the effect of that dollar figure. If the Unified Judicial System were to sustain substantial financial cuts, those cuts do not simply go away. The costs are merely transferred to others including law enforcement, schools, counties, cities, the Departments of Social Services and Corrections, the churches, and the private sector.