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Openness in the Courts, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2003
28 pages
This report summarizes four focus group discussions which explored perceptions of “openness” in the Hawaiian courts, as well as the judiciary’s evaluation and disciplinary processes.
In March 2003, the Hawaiian Judiciary commissioned Ward Research to conduct research on issue of openness, specifically among the stakeholder groups which included judges, attorneys, and the media, as well as the general public. The primary objective was to provide the judiciary and the planning committee with qualitative data regarding perceptions of openness in the courts; what works, what needs improvement, and how it might better serve key stakeholder groups and the general public. Five focus groups were held in 2003, one each among the stakeholder groups: judges, attorneys, media, and two for the general public. This final report summarizes the discussions from the four representative groups. Findings were divided into seven sections: (1) openness in the courts; (2) access to court information; (3) openness in trial proceedings; (4) judicial selection; (5) openness in case records; (6) judicial evaluation and retention; and (7) attorney discipline. Finding highlights include: (1) the general public is not well informed about the judiciary; (2) the media is focused on increasing their access to court information; (3) relative to judicial evaluation, attorneys do not have great faith that the current survey method used by the judiciary is anonymous or effective in changing judicial temperament or in retention decisions regarding judges who they perceive to be below average; and (4) in regards to openness, judges feel that the courts are open in the sense that trial proceedings are never closed to the public or media.


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