Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, September 8, 2005


Page 3


Survey Shows Trust in Courts Is Climbing, Judicial Council Says


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A new survey shows public confidence in the California courts has risen since 1992, the Judicial Council of California said yesterday.

The survey results were presented in San Diego where events surrounding the State Bar of California’s convention got off to an unusually early start. This year the State Bar meeting will be joined by the annual gathering of the California Judges Association and by a statewide meeting of court officials and administrators.

The Statewide Judicial Branch meeting kicked off with the presentation of the survey.

In a statement, state courts Administrative Director William C. Vickrey said he was “pleased” that the survey showed members of the public are more satisfied with the court system now than they were when a similar survey was conducted over a decade ago.

The new survey, officials said, showed that 67 percent of the public has a positive attitude about the courts. Less than 50 percent reported such feelings in 1992.

Other key findings of the survey were:

-Immigrants tend to have positive views of the courts, but little contact with them.

-The cost of hiring a lawyer is the most commonly cited barrier to taking a case to court, regardless of the income level of the survey respondent.

-Some 56 percent of Californians have been involved in a case that required them to go to a courthouse, most of them as a result of being called for jury service.

-Only jury service increases confidence in the court system; other types of contact with the court system are associated with lower levels of approval.

-Of the more than 2,400 respondents, 47 percent were ethnic minorities and 31 percent were born outside the United States.

The 78th State Bar convention gets underway today with a luncheon speech by novelist Richard North Patterson, a former San Francisco attorney. Tonight California Women Lawyers holds its 31st annual dinner, with Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as the featured speaker.

More than 5,000 attorneys are expected to attend the State Bar meeting, which features a host of MCLE training sessions with topics ranging from real estate transfer tax law to whether there are any limits on how much a lawyer can charge for his or her services.

The CJA meeting also starts today, with presentations and panel discussions beginning tomorrow on such topics as sealing court records and relieving stress through travel.

Riverside attorney James O. Heiting and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Friedman are slated to be sworn in on Saturday by Chief Justice Ronald M. George as presidents of the State Bar and the CJA, respectively. George will also address a joint session of the groups, giving his view of the current state of the court system.


Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company