PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER
APRIL 10, 2001
STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS
TO THE JOINT SESSION OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE
OF THE LOUISIANA LEGISLATURE
F. CALOGERO, JR.
JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA
April 10, 2001, 3:00 p.m., House Chamber
Mr. President, Mr.
Speaker, members of the House and Senate, colleagues, distinguished
guests, ladies and gentlemen:
Good afternoon. On
behalf of the Louisiana Supreme Court, thank you once again
for this opportunity to speak to you on the state of the judiciary.
I sincerely appreciate the courtesies shown by the President,
the Speaker, and all of you for scheduling this address and
for being here today.
I am joined today by other members
of the Supreme Court, including Justice Kitty Kimball, who
is next in line to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Other members of the Court present today are Justice Jeff
Victory from Shreveport, Justice Chet Traylor from Winnsboro,
and Justice Jeannette Knoll from Marksville. Justice Harry
Lemmon, who is not here today, has announced his retirement
effective May 16, 2001, ending 21 years of distinguished service
on the Supreme Court. Justice Bernette Johnson from New Orleans
could not be with us today because she is in Atlanta receiving
an honorary doctorate degree from Spelman College.
Since I last spoke
to you, we bid a fond farewell to Justice Walter Marcus, Jr.
of New Orleans who retired in September 2000 after 27-1/2
years on the Supreme Court. We were also saddened by the loss
of retired Supreme Court Justice Pike Hall of Shreveport who
died in November 1999. The Second Circuit Court of Appeal
courthouse was renamed recently in his honor.
This is my fourth "State
of the Judiciary" address. I look forward to speaking to you
every two years. My regularly-scheduled remarks represent
a relatively new tradition, although prior to 1996, Chief
Justices have occasionally addressed this august body. I believe
our presence here serves a dual purpose of updating you on
the performance of the state judiciary while serving as a
reminder of the functions and nature of our respective branches
of government. My own experience and that of the other Justices
is an appreciation and deep respect of your role in our state
government. This bicameral legislature is inferior only to
the Constitution of Louisiana as adopted by the people of
As legislators, you
pass the laws for our state. Under the state Constitution,
we are required to respect, interpret, and apply those laws,
and on occasion, to determine whether that legislation comports
with our state and federal constitutions.
Yesterday marked my
11th year as your Chief Justice, and I thank each of you for
your courtesy and your friendship. I also would like to thank
all of you and Governor Foster for your assistance and cooperation
during the past two years.
I especially commend
you for providing the funds to complete the renovation of
400 Royal Street. I promise that this precious landmark will
become one of the great jewels in this state's rich treasury
of historic buildings, and a fitting symbol for justice in
I also thank the legislature,
especially the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee,
for working with the Supreme Court and the judiciary to develop
the Judicial Budget and Performance Accountability Act of
1999. Because of this Act, the judiciary is now using strategic
planning, performance auditing, and other tools to direct
its future and to encourage continuous improvement.
I also wish to thank
the legislature in advance for its consideration at this session
of the need for higher levels of judicial pay. Judges' advocacy
of a judicial pay raise may sound to some as rather self-serving.
However, do remember that if the people of this state want
a fair, impartial, and independent judiciary, adequate judicial
pay is certainly a necessary component of the overall effort
to achieve these objectives.
As you know, as Chief
Justice I have strived to improve communications between our
two branches of government. I think we've been successful
in this regard, more recently with the Justices' biannual
visit to this Chamber, distribution of our quarterly Court
Column newsletter, and our district court Judicial Ride-alongs
in which I know many of you have participated. Last fall,
we expanded this program to include a Supreme Court Ridealong
for state legislators. We were delighted that about 50 of
you came to the Supreme Court, visited with us for a morning
of informational presentations, took a tour to see firsthand
the progress of the renovations of the Courthouse at 400 Royal
Street, and sat in on our regularly-scheduled afternoon oral
arguments. Thank you to everyone who made the trip to our
Court and participated in the Ridealong. We received some
excellent feedback on this program, and we hope to present
it again at a future date to give new legislators (and new
Justices) the opportunity to participate.
I hope you also continue to find useful
the input of our Judicial Council into relevant legislation,
such as bills to create new judgeships. As you know, each
year the Judicial Council's Committee to Evaluate Requests
for New Judgeships sends to each legislator and each court
a list of criteria for creating new judgeships. The Judicial
Council only approves and recommends to you the creation of
a new judgeship after a team, composed of judges and staff,
visits the judicial district, analyzes case-loads and other
factors, and concludes that a new judgeship is warranted,
based on the requisite criteria. Recommendations of the Judicial
Council are supportable with statistics and are not made lightly.
Thank you for respecting the recommendations of the Judicial
Council and for upholding the integrity of the process.
Over the past two years,
I believe Louisiana's judiciary has accomplished many positive
things, as you will see in the publications that have been
placed at your desks. These reports show that the judiciary
has worked diligently to improve its performance in many different
areas. One of the longstanding goals of the Supreme Court
has been to reduce the number of attorney disciplinary infractions.
Through the Court's "Committee to Study Permanent Disbarment",
co-chaired by Justice Kitty Kimball and Justice Jeannette
T. Knoll, the Court's "Committee to Prevent Lawyer Misconduct",
chaired by Justice Chet D. Traylor, and the Court's " Ad
Hoc Committee to Study Potential Changes in the Admission
and Practice of Law", chaired by Justice Kitty Kimball, we
are pursuing a variety of avenues to improve the quality of
the legal profession.
In my opinion, a potentially
far reaching reform initiative recently undertaken by the
Supreme Court for our elected judiciary was the formation
of a "Committee to Study the Creation of a Judicial Campaign
Oversight Committee." This Study Committee was charged with
studying and making recommendations to the Court on the benefits
and feasibility of establishing a permanent Oversight Committee,
which would serve, for the judicial candidate, as a resource
and as a deterrent. The Oversight Committee would act as a
resource by educating the judicial candidates on such matters
as the Code of Judicial Conduct, answering ethical questions
which arise during an election on an expedited basis, and
reviewing actual or proposed campaign conduct and advertisements.
The Oversight Committee would also hopefully deter unethical
conduct by soliciting from each candidate a pledge of ethical
campaign conduct, and also by reviewing complaints and taking
action where appropriate. It is our hope that this Oversight
Committee might help in restoring and maintaining ethical
conduct in judicial campaigns.
I'd like to personally
thank Senator Jay Dardenne and Representative Arthur Morrell
for serving on the Study Committee, which completed its work
this past Friday. I am pleased to report that the Study Committee
will soon recommend to the Court the creation of a permanent
Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee. The Study Committee
made several other distinct recommendations, and its report
will be subject to consideration by the Supreme Court conference
in the very near future.
While I appreciate
the chance to recount some of our accomplishments, my primary
purpose in addressing you today is to ask your assistance
on a very important issue - the need to re-envision, restructure,
and reform the juvenile justice system of this state. Improved
education and more effective juvenile justice are two keys
for ensuring the future of this state. I commend the Governor
and the Legislature for their initiatives to improve the state's
educational system, especially the recent effort to provide
higher pay for teachers. Now I think it is time for all three
branches to examine the issue of the current state of our
juvenile justice system and to take bold steps to improve
In addressing this
issue, I will not elaborate on the many problems affecting
juvenile courts - for example, the low level of operating
and capital funding, the unavailability of effective secured
detention, the lack of alternative sanctions, and the lack
of treatment services for children and families. Let me begin
instead by sharing with you my vision of what I believe is
not only possible, but imperative as well.
I envision a revitalized
juvenile justice system to be built upon a resolute, over-arching
commitment by Louisiana's leaders and its people to truly
put children first above other priorities, especially those
children who are at risk of abuse and neglect, educational
failure, societal maladjustment, and chronic criminal activity.
I envision a juvenile
justice system that emphasizes prevention, assessment, early
intervention, treatment, rehabilitation, and the proper development
of civic values, learning competencies, and life-coping skills
in children, rather than simply punishment, and, where punishment
is an appropriate and necessary remedy, a system that ensures
swift and effective justice.
I envision a new juvenile
justice system built upon the comprehensive strategy advocated
by the federal government that provides a framework for assessing
and treating all children who come under its jurisdiction,
including those who are abused and neglected, those who are
status offenders, and those who are serious, violent, and
chronic delinquent offenders.
The new system should
recognize the link between child abuse and neglect and the
potential for later social maladjustment and possible criminal
activity. It should address the needs of abused and neglected
children in a comprehensive manner from the moment they enter
the system until the time they are firmly re-united with their
birth families, or securely placed with their adoptive families,
or reasonably adjusted to be on their own after they "age-out"
of the system.
For those children
who are status offenders, traffic offenders, and delinquent
offenders, the new system should provide a continuum of high-quality,
integrated services and graduated sanctions, including prevention,
assessment, early intervention, secured detention, alternative
sanctions, long-term services for treating substance abuse,
mental disorders, and other disorders affecting children and
their families. The system should link traditional juvenile
justice elements with elements from the health, mental health,
substance abuse, educational, child welfare, and community-based
systems. The system should also insist and ensure that there
is meaningful communication, collaboration, and data sharing
among all juvenile justice agencies.
This new juvenile justice
system should ensure that juvenile courts are adequately housed
and funded to fulfill their rehabilitative mission.
This ideal juvenile
justice system should consistently operate from a knowledge
base that incorporates the best tools for planning and managing
the implementation of the comprehensive strategy. The system
should provide accurate, up-to-date information on the quality,
timeliness, and effectiveness of all juvenile justice processes
and results, including the effectiveness of each strategy
in the continuum of services, including the range of progressive
sanctions. The system should not act blindly in the vague
hope of positive results but should use the best science to
ensure that good things will result so that success can be
institutionalized and failure eliminated. The system should,
therefore, be totally accountable to the public and to you,
the guardians of the public's purse.
Through such a comprehensive
approach, I envision a reformed juvenile justice system that
is not blind but knowledgeable in its application of services
and sanctions, a system that is tough but not mindless, and
a system whose cost-effectiveness can be measured accurately
and whose expectations are firmly and unrelentingly in favor
of the rehabilitation of children.
If you agree with at
least part of my vision, the question I wish to pose to you
today is: how do we -- the three branches of state government
- along with local government, and our society as a whole
-- come together to develop and implement a common vision?
Many judges in this state, including myself, believe that
increased state funding for our financially-strapped juvenile
courts should be a major part of the reform and restructuring
of the juvenile justice system. However, I realize the legislature's
difficulty in jumping into that issue without carefully analyzing
the costs and benefits and also without looking at the entire
system. And so, let me suggest the following approach as a
starting point. I request that, at this session, you establish
a joint legislative study committee or a commission to envision
practical ways to reform and restructure the juvenile justice
system of our state. It is time that we all examine the mission
and financing of our juvenile courts as well as the availability
of effective secured detention facilities and services, the
availability of effective alternative sanctions, and the availability
of treatment services. In this endeavor, I stand ready to
commit the judiciary to participate meaningfully in this process.
I offer the benefits of our staff, the wisdom of our judges,
and access to the best judicial think tanks and resources
in the nation.
An improved juvenile justice system is, in my opinion, the
state's best strategy for preventing and reducing serious
crime. We all know, intuitively and from research, that the
abuse and neglect of children is a major contributing factor
in the development of delinquency and that delinquency is
a major contributor to adult crime. For these reasons alone,
we need to look carefully at this issue and to act. So let
us begin. Once again, I thank you for opening your chamber
to us today, for your attention to my remarks, and for your
unfailing devotion to the people of Louisiana.