What do you love most about living in America? For some U.S. citizens, the right to a fair trial by jury is one of the most appreciated parts of living in our country. Without the judicial processes that have so long kept order in and out of the court room, many citizens would quickly recognize how necessary these tried and tested systems actually are. The American Board of Trial Associates (ABOTA) recently published a white paper addressing various threats to the United States’ judicial system. In the paper, titled “Preserving a Fair, Impartial and Independent Judiciary,” ABOTA provides a history of the American justice system as well as suggestions to further preserve and protect its ideals.
ABOTA’s white paper begins by clearly defining the history of the American judicial system, tracings its roots back to King Henry II’s Court of Common Pleas, and the Declaration of Independence where John Adams declared, “it is the right of every citizen to be tried by judges as free, impartial, and independent as the lot of humanity will admit.” Although this is a principle American citizens have embraced for centuries, ABOTA is concerned about political influence finding its way into courtrooms presently and in the future.
Without a fair and impartial administration of justice, justice will cease to exist. ABOTA’s white paper describes recent instances in which judges and other officials are persuaded by politicians, political parties, and special interest groups with political agendas. Not only are judges being elected and persuaded by individuals outside of the system of justice, many others have received unwarranted public criticism for rulings that did not side with popular opinion. Without the neutral set of processes that have been in place for over 225 years, public trust and confidence in American courts will be lost.
The white paper released by ABOTA urges Americans and trial advocates to educate the public about the “vital role of the judiciary and the importance of assuring that judges are free from improper influence” (15). It also touches upon a fiscal crisis that “literally jeopardizes the existence, welfare, and viability of our judicial system” (14). It is made clear that funding for the neutral and impartial judicial system that we have always known is absolutely necessary for the future of democratic America.
Our trial partner, Gil Purcell, is a Diplomat Level member of ABOTA, and works tirelessly toward the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. With more than 7,000 other lawyers and judges, ABOTA works in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to ensure civilians receive the rights that our forefathers agreed upon so long ago.