Montana State of the Judiciary: “An independent, adequately funded judiciary is key to a constitutional democracy”

On January 15, Montana’s Chief Justice Mike McGrath delivered his State of the Judiciary Address to the state’s Legislature. Audio of the event indicates there was no formal resolution adopted. Instead, motions were made in both the house and senate to meet in joint session and, once in session, to appoint a committee to escort all the justices of the supreme court into the house chamber.

The speech itself (a copy of which can be found here) included

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Indiana State of the Judiciary: “Is our system of justice in Indiana working for the people and businesses it promises to serve?”

Indiana is one of only a handful of states that put the requirement of a State of the Judiciary presentation into a statute or constitutional provision. Specifically Art. 7, Sec 3 of the state constitution provides “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.”

In keeping with the requirement the House and Senate adopted HCR 6, a formal resolution for a joint session to hear the state of the judiciary (“Chief Justice’s message”) and on January 14, Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush delivered her Address. The speech itself (a copy of which can be found here) included

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Iowa State of the Judiciary: Court technology, courthouse security

Chief Justice Mark Cady presented the State of the Judiciary on January 14 to a joint convention of the legislature pursuant to a resolution (HCR 3) passed by both chambers. HCR 3 noted that the Chief Justice’s report is statutorily based. Iowa Code 602.1207 provides:

The chief justice shall communicate the condition of the judicial branch by message to each general assembly, and may recommend matters the chief justice deems appropriate.

Highlights of the Chief Justice’s speech (full text here) included

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Wyoming State of the Judiciary: “[T]he rule of law doesn’t help much if you can’t get into court.”

E. James Burke, Chief Justice of the Wyoming Supreme Court delivered a state of the judiciary address to a joint session of the Wyoming legislature on January 14, 2015. There does not appear to have been a formal resolution filed in the House or Senate.

The Chief Justice’s speech (text here) highlighted several items

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South Dakota State of the Judiciary: Alternative Sentencing Programs, Rural Attorney Project, E-Filing

Through an unnumbered report adopted by both the House and Senate, the South Dakota legislature met in joint session January 14 for the purposes of hearing the State of the Judiciary Address of Chief Justice David Gilbertson.

The Chief Justice’s speech (video here) highlighted several items

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North Dakota State of the Judiciary: lack of legislative resources for court staff, judges has led to “conveyor-belt justice”

On January 7, North Dakota Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle delivered his State of the Judiciary Address to the state’s Legislative Assembly.

From a procedural standpoint, no resolution was adopted. The Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader made a motion to join the House in its Chamber for a joint session. The House’s Assistant Majority Leader made effectively the same motion 30 minutes later.

The speech itself (a copy of which can be found here) included

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Starting this week: State of the Judiciary reviews and tracking. What state chief justices are speaking and what are they telling legislators?

Over the last several years Gavel to Gavel has tracked State of the Judiciary addresses delivered to the state legislatures as a way to indicate and determine how chief justices view their relationship with the legislature and their desires for the coming session. Given that this year’s set of speeches are already being delivered, I’ll be restarting my practice this week.

The National Center for State Courts has an archive of previous years State of the Judiciary addresses, whether delivered to the state legislature, the state bars, or the state judicial conferences, located here.

I already know that the Chief Justices of Kansas and Washington State will not be invited, partially due to anger at their respective Supreme Courts for decisions on K-12 funding rendered by those courts, but the other Chief Justices that are likely to speak are as follows (based on who delivered speeches in the last several years; the list may change).

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. Connecticut
  5. Georgia
  6. Hawaii
  7. Idaho
  8. Indiana (scheduled for 1/14/15)
  9. Iowa
  10. Kentucky (given to Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary in fall)
  11. Louisiana
  12. Maine
  13. Missouri
  14. Montana
  15. Nebraska
  16. Nevada
  17. New Mexico
  18. North Dakota (delivered 1/7/15)
  19. South Carolina
  20. South Dakota (scheduled for 1/14/15)
  21. Texas
  22. Utah
  23. Wyoming