Winter 2002 Home   Newsletters

Convention Edition 2003

Fall 2003

President's Message (Maile Bay)
First Saunders Award to Jean Aoki (Mary Anne Raywid)
Ray of Hope for School Governance Change (Mary Anne Raywid)
Initiative and Referendum Forms
Action Needed Now to Support Clean Air (Kay Maxwell)
Busy Year Ahead for Judiciary Study Committee (Jean Aoki)
Thanks for Evaluation Efforts! (Jean Aoki)
Two New Studies Approved at Convention
League of Women Voters of Hawaii Board of Directors 2003-2005
Administration Blows to Education
Hawaii Pro-Choice License Plates
Big Vote of Thanks (Suzanne Meisenzahl & Mary Anne Raywid)

Busy Year Ahead for Judiciary Study Committee

Concurrence on Positions on Judiciary and Judicial Independence

With approval by the 2003 State League Convention, the Judiciary Study Committee is in the process of drafting some positions on Hawai'i's Judiciary and our support for judicial independence. These will be broad positions: one affirming our support of our democratic form of government based on three coequal branches of government, each serving as a check and balance on the other two so that no one branch becomes all-powerful; another in support for judicial independence of our courts and the judicial branch, so that every citizen has access to fair and impartial justice and our liberties and rights are protected;` and a third position in support of the merit selection of judges and justices. (If you want to read some horror stories on the election of judges, you are welcome to browse in our League library.)

The first position may seem unnecessary since it is in our constitution, but with the world and national events seeming to erode the balance of power among the three branches of government, we, as citizens, must remain ever vigilant and speak out against any abuses by one branch or the other. With our positions in place, League can participate in public debate and advocate on any issue that is covered by one of our positions.

The positions will be adopted through the concurrence process, and will be based in part on the committee's report written for the Judicial Independence Project. League was one of thirteen local and state Leagues which received grants from the LWVUS Ed Fund's Judicial Independence Project which was, in turn, funded by a grant from the Program on Law & Society of the Open Society Institute.

Another Grant from LWVUS Ed Fund

With the extension of National's Judicial Independence Project for a third year, we applied for and received a grant for the printing and distribution of our report. We will be distributing this report to our members, selected members of the public and organizations, legislators, the media, public libraries, and whomever requests a copy as long as supplies last. We will need a little updating since it has been a while since we completed the report and a few things have happened since then, and perhaps we will jazz up the format somewhat.

Nancy Connors, Ed Fund's manager for the Judicial Independence Project, and Zaida Arquedas, National's Deputy Executive Director, have been most encouraging with helpful suggestions and gentle nudgings. In launching the release of our report, they suggested that we consider press conferences in all of our counties, for example. They suggested that some money would be available for such an event.

That would be the beginning of the education phase of our project. We will need to reconnect with our partners and bring more organizations representing the lay public into our coalition.

"Our Transparency in the Courts" Conference

The Hawaii Judiciary is planning a November conference on "Transparency in the Courts." We are delighted because the need for more transparency in the judicial system is one of the major findings featured in our report.

Jo Judy is representing League on the planning committee for the conference, which consists of representatives from the Hawai'i State Bar Association, news media, Judicial Council, Judiciary, and The League of Women Voters.

In "...and Justice For All", a newsletter for the employees of the Hawaii State Judiciary, Chief Justice Ronald Moon is quoted as saying, "The conference is based on the premise that trust and confidence in the third branch of government is enhanced when members of the public are allowed to freely observe how the court system works."

According to Jo, the committee is in the process of gathering information from different groups, members of the legal profession, court users, members of the public, etc. through focus group sessions. When the issues for the conference are identified, the conference will proceed to devise an action plan.

Jean Aoki

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