Tuesday, January 26, 1999

Moon wants

The chief justice requests
legislative support to improve
his department's operations

By Debra Barayuga


A modern, efficient, fair and accessible Judiciary is what Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon envisions as Hawaii enters the 21st century.

But the vision won't become a reality without the continued support of the Legislature and the public, he said today in his State of the Judiciary speech.

He asked for the Legislature's support to give judges long-overdue raises as recommended by the Judicial Salary Commission; continue a special fund to enable the courts to upgrade its antiquated computer system; and fund two new Family Court judges.

"I certainly support his proposals but we're gonna have a tough time funding new programs and expanding existing programs," said Sen. Andy Levin, Senate Ways and Means co-chairman.

A struggling economy, overcrowded prisons, domestic violence, property crimes and child abuse cases have placed great demands on Hawaii's courts.

However, the Judiciary is continually looking for better ways to improve and better serve the public, Moon said, noting that justice is not only about laws and procedures, but about people.

Some of the Judiciary's recent initiatives to position itself to better serve the public include:

bullet Converting District Court forms to electronic format and making them available at public libraries, on the Internet or on low-cost diskettes.

bullet Making available step-by-step videos on traffic and small claims proceedings in easy-to-understand English as well as in Ilocano, Korean and captioned for the deaf and hearing-impaired at libraries.

bullet Establishing the Ho'okele Court Navigation Project -- concierge kiosks at courthouse entrances and customer service centers -- to help the public find their way through the courts and judicial system.

bullet Making jury service more meaningful and relevant by allowing jurors to take notes during trials and ask questions of jurors as part of the Jury Innovations pilot project.

bullet Updating its antiquated computer information systems to prepare for the year 2000.

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