National Forum On Judicial Accountability
How fitting that as America celebrates Sunshine Week, a time for emphasizing the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy, National Forum On Judicial Accountability (NFOJA) members and supporters receive a wake up call from North Carolina. The message comes courtesy of newsobserver.com reporter J. Andrew Curliss. He begins a recent article on North Carolina state politics with a simple, deceptively provocative statement:
Late last summer, lawmakers and Gov. Pat McCrory agreed to shroud in secrecy the state’s process for disciplining judges.
Many if not most Americans are instinctively pro-transparency, so this quote is likely to trouble more than the national grassroots legal reform community.
A link to Curliss' referenced article is provided below, but allow us to first highlight some of its most troubling content:
The (North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission's) executive director, Paul Ross, said in an interview that the new law prohibits him from even discussing whether there are any cases now pending against judges.
Among the changes brought by the new law was to strip the judicial commission of its previous ability to issue a public reprimand against a judge.
Of course NFOJA pushes for much more than transparent judicial disciplinary processes. NFOJA strives to shift America away from state judicial self-policing. It advocates for vesting randomly selected, adequately trained, rotating groups of private citizens with responsibility for discipline of state judges.
In October 2012, NFOJA launched a campaign to recruit "ambassadors" for 2013 state legislative sessions, setting out compelling reasons for its members to get involved. Though the 2014 legislative session has passed in most states, NFOJA is gearing up to facilitate meetings between its members and key state legislators. The format for NFOJA's standard "Community Forums On Judicial Accountability" (CFOJAs) has also been revised and is being finalized for a series of community meetings as soon as all of America is transformed from the tundra characterizing a good deal of the nation this winter of 2013-2014 :-)
If spring has not quite asserted herself in your region, please take the next few weeks to continue thawing and to closely consider both the implications of North Carolina's audacious set-back to government transparency as well as NFOJA's efforts to end state judicial self-policing, beginning with its 2012 post titled, "The Time is Now -- Become a NFOJA Ambassador!" In addition to being NFOJA Ambassadors to their state legislatures, it should not be particularly burdensome for reasonably civic minded Americans to meet briefly with neighbors and friends to discuss related topics. If you will work with NFOJA to host a CFOJA sometime this year, please email the organization today c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your consideration. Rise and Shine!
/s/ NFOJA Co-Administrators
**Please note that active links embedded in this article are indicated when its wording is light blue. NFOJA's administration is supplied by its corporate sponsor, National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc. (NJCDLP). Learn more about NJCDLP by visiting www.njcdlp.org