Wednesday, June 15, 2011

PMC: Let's Improve PA. Judicial Discipline System

Explaining that “changes are needed to ensure the Pennsylvania Judicial Discipline System is empowered to act – and does act – first and foremost to protect the public,” Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts (PMC) has released its Report and Recommendations for Improving the Pennsylvania Judicial Discipline System.

Maintaining public confidence in the courts requires certainty that there is a strong judicial discipline system to investigate and punish judicial misconduct. But as PMC Deputy Director Shira J. Goodman noted, “In the wake of the Luzerne County scandal, Pennsylvanians are not sure this is the case. Steps must be taken to restore public trust in the System.”

The recommendations include enhancing the accountability, transparency, and independence of the Judicial Discipline System; improving service to those who complain about judicial conduct; and sufficiently funding the System. Goodman explained, “PMC focused on how to strengthen the Judicial Discipline System and enable it to better serve the public. We understand this will take resources in a time of tight budgets, but Pennsylvanians want a Judicial Discipline System that will, above all, operate in a way that protects the public from judicial misconduct.”

Ideally, the Judicial Discipline System would be used rarely because judges would not engage in questionable conduct. To the extent the System must be used, PMC hopes the suggestions for improving it will be considered and adopted.

PMC’s Report on the Pennsylvania Judicial Discipline System may be found here.

Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that promotes the reform of Pennsylvania’s judicial system.

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