Missouri and Texas Launch Civil Justice Reform Efforts
Last year, IAALS and the National Center for State Courts released a new Roadmap for Implementation to guide state courts implementing civil justice reform efforts. The Roadmap is part of the Civil Justice Initiative (CJI) Implementation Plan, a three-year effort focused on implementing the call to action and recommendations for civil justice reform sounded by the Conference of Chief Justices. IAALS and NCSC will ultimately work with one state from each region of the United States as it follows the Roadmap through implementation of civil justice reform. Idaho and Maine were previously announced as Roadmap states and we are excited to add Texas and Missouri to this list. I was fortunate to visit both states last month to support their reform efforts.
On February 23, 2018, Missouri kicked off its efforts with the first meeting of its Commission on Civil Justice Reform. Established last June, the Commission’s goal is to “globally and holistically examine and review current civil practices and procedures and to recommend measures to ensure the fair, affordable, and prompt resolution of civil disputes in the civil justice system—thereby enhancing public confidence in, and meaningful access to, the state court civil justice system.” The Supreme Court’s order provides that the Commission look to the Call to Action report and recommendations, as well as the IAALS and ACTL Task Force report Reforming our Civil Justice System: A Report on Progress and Promise. The Missouri Order also identifies specific groups of stakeholders to be included on the Commission to ensure a broad inclusion of stakeholders. In October 2017, Missouri was selected by the CJI Steering Committee to serve as a roadmap state from the Midwestern CCJ/COSCA region.
Texas has joined these efforts as well, with the goal of rethinking and transforming how the civil justice system works while ensuring access for all. In 2017, the Texas Judicial Council created a Civil Justice Committee and issued a charge to “study the Conference of Chief Justices’ Civil Justice Initiative recommendations and the landscape of Texas civil justice” and “recommend necessary reforms to improve access to justice to the Texas Courts.” In March 2017, Texas was selected by the CJI Steering Committee to serve as the roadmap state from the Southern CCJ/COSCA region.
IAALS is excited to be a part of both efforts, and to provide technical assistance and support as Missouri and Texas move through this process. The Roadmap identifies leadership as the first step of implementation, and both states exemplify this leadership.