Listening Phase and Courting Justice

The Conference of Chief Justices convened the Community Engagement Initiative in partnership with the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts with support from the National Center for State Courts. The Listening Phase and the entire project would not have been possible without the generous support of the State Justice Institute, the National Center for State Courts, the California Endowment, and the Public Welfare Foundation.

The Community Engagement in the State Courts Advisory Board consisted of 17 representatives from key stakeholder organizations. The Advisory Board first met in October 2015 and established the effort's guiding mission: "to develop effective tools and resources that assist state court leaders in engaging marginalized and disenfranchised communities to ensure equal access to justice for all, and to improve the trust and confidence those communities have in state courts to protect their individual rights and liberties and resolve disputes fairly."

Courting Justice was an unprecedented multi-city televised town hall series that invited state supreme, appellate, and trial court judges to step down from the bench and into the community to openly discuss how courts can better deliver justice for all.  The series included three stops in Los Angeles, Little Rock, and Cleveland.  Each episode featured discussions between a panel of judges and a studio audience. The audience included community members involved in social justice, advocacy, faith, and small business activities. Other discussants included national court and bar leaders, litigants, law enforcement, and trial court judges. During the facilitated interactive dialogues, the constituents had the opportunity to voice their concerns and share real world solutions on rebuilding the public trust in our judiciary.  Each recording was subsequently broadcast on PBS stations across the nation.

The results of the Listening Tour were utilized to create a survey aimed at problem identification.

"When we set out on this initiative, we could only imagine the impact of the Advisory Board’s efforts.  By televising the Listening Tour, we took these issues to a new level. In order to be fair and impartial, judges must be equal opportunity listeners." - Hon. Eric T. Washington, former Chief Judge, D.C. Court of Appeals

Discussion of the Courting Justice Listening Tour

Watch a discussion on the Listening Tour at the NACM 2017 Midyear Meeting on February 6, 2017.