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Tuesday, January 25, 2000

State of Hawaii

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Hawaii Chief Justice Ronald Moon gives his State
of the Judiciary speech in the state Senate today
as his wife, Stella, watches.

Judiciary seeks a
system fair and
accessible to
all in Hawaii

The Chief Justice hopes to
offer more services that will fill
the needs of a changing society

Full text of speech

By Debra Barayuga


Legislature 2000 Improving the quality of justice for everyone remains a top priority for the state Judiciary. In his fourth State of the Judiciary address today, Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon touted recent innovations that make Hawaii's courts more accessible to all, including Hawaii's large immigrant population.

Unequal treatment was one of the top three concerns that delegates at a national summit last year identified as affecting the public's perception of the justice system, Moon said.

The high cost of the justice system and the public's lack of understanding about the justice system were the other concerns. Moon said he believes unequal treatment is less of a problem in Hawaii than in other states. Last year, the National Consortium of Task Forces on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts recognized Hawaii's Supreme Court as a prime example of inclusiveness in the justice system, he said.

"Our citizens can rely upon the Judiciary in the third millennium because it has proven it can embrace change and at the same time preserve the fundamental principles of the past," Moon said.

He also asked the Legislature for support to offer services that address society's changing needs in areas of foster care and drug abuse treatment.

This session, he is seeking money to establish a Drug Court on Maui, purchase land for the Hilo Judiciary Complex and update its computer system.

Moon also wants to reach out to school children and educate them about the role of the courts in government. The Judiciary hopes to establish a partnership with the public and private schools, he said.

Retaining qualified judges is an ongoing concern. The Senate will be holding hearings to confirm nine judges to fill current vacancies. Moon said he is grateful for the Legislature's commitment to provide the pay raise that failed last year.

Moon made note of several steps the Judiciary has taken to make the courts more accessible:

Bullet Converting the Civil Division in the First Circuit to an individual trial calendar where one judge will handle a case from beginning to end and encouraging the use of arbitration and mediation.
Bullet Making Circuit Court civil, criminal and adult Family Court files available on the Internet.
Bullet Making guides available at courthouse entrances to help litigants and court users navigate their way through the court system.
Bullet Developing an integrated case management system where cases and court calendars will be filed electronically and can be shared between all courts.

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