NCAJ posted the Justice Index live on-line at www.justiceindex.org on February 25, 2014, as as reported in this blog. In the time since the launch, the Justice Index has reached a wide audience and NCAJ has received correspondence about the Justice Index from stakeholders in approximately two dozen states.
Initially, the Justice Index attracted significant media coverage, with stories in such publications and blogs as the following: National Law Journal, New York Law Journal, Law & Technology News, Open Law, and Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog. National experts also offered their views on the potential value of the Justice Index in helping to increase access to justice, here.
NCAJ staff have introduced the Justice Index in settings across the country, including:
- at the invitation of the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division at a press conference announcing DOJ’s publication of a new tool to promote best practices for language access in the state courts. http://blogs.justice.gov/main/archives/3594.
- at the national meeting of State Access to Justice Chairs in Oregon. https://www.americanbar.org/calendar/2014/05/natl-mtg-of-access-to-justice-cmm-n-chairs/schedule.html.
- at a local meeting of the DC Bar. https://www.dcbar.org/marketplace/event-details.cfm?productCD=041406ACCW&type=event, and,
- in meetings with national organizations and institutions committed to increasing access to justice.
As news of the Justice Index reaches more people, many stakeholders – from approximately two dozen states – have reached out to NCAJ with questions, suggestions, corrections, and new information for inclusion in the Justice Index. NCAJ has heard from chief judges, court administrators, legal aid leaders, state bar officials, local bar officials, access to justice commission leaders, national advocacy organization leaders, leaders of good government groups, academics, activists and reporters. Some of the positive developments reported to NCAJ about the Justice Index to date are the following:
- Two state courts have assigned to specific employees the specific responsibility for effectuating initiatives to support self-represented litigants.
- One state court modified its web site to clarify its resources for self-represented litigants, explaining to NCAJ in a letter that: “We have added three menu tabs [on our web site] to provide a more convenient, user-friendly format so that self-represented litigants, those with limited English proficiency and/or disabilities, and members of the public in general can more easily locate relevant information and better navigate our system.”
- Court administrators from four states personally reported to NCAJ staff that the chief judge of the state had contacted them after the JI went live and had asked why the state ranking in the Justice Index was poor, or stated a desire for the state to rank first.
- One state reported reaching out to a higher ranked state to ask for thoughts, lessons and assistance about how to adopt best practices, already in place in the other state, for increasing interpreting and translating services for litigants with limited English proficiency.
A team of attorneys at Skadden Arps Law Firm (serving pro bono) is working with NCAJ to review and respond to all correspondence about the Justice Index, including by making corrections to the Justice Index where necessary. NCAJ welcomes all questions, suggestions, corrections, and new information for inclusion in the Justice Index. NCAJ is also eager to hear of steps that states are taking to adopt and replicate best practices for increasing access to justice.
Communications received by NCAJ prior to May 31st will be processed for inclusion in the next iteration of the Justice Index, which is expected in June 2014. Correspondence is welcome via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To follow developments with the Justice Index and to follow other developments in the access to justice movement, sign up for NCAJ’s quarterly newsletter and periodic blog at www.ncforaj.org. Visit the Justice Index at www.justiceindex.org.