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Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers
Speech given at the First Meeting of
The Public Service and Trust Commission
September 27, 2007

Good afternoon. I would first like to thank you for agreeing to serve on the Public Service and Trust Commission. This commission, chaired by Judge DiPentima, is one of my top priorities as chief justice and will require a substantial time commitment on your part. However, I believe that the outcome – a concrete strategic plan for the Connecticut Judicial Branch – will be well worth the hours spent to craft it.

I want to start off by asking you a few questions. Have you ever had to wait to have a matter come before a judge because an interpreter for your client was not available? Have you ever had to wait for an appeal to progress because you were waiting for the transcript to be produced? Were you ever called for jury duty and kept locked in a room for several hours without knowing why? Have you ever wondered why some of your private information is available through the courts? Have you ever logged onto the Judicial Branch website and been unable to find the information you need?

It is easy to pose the questions, and while we do many things extremely well, your task is to find the answers to these and other difficult issues. My goal, and thus your charge, is to develop a strategic plan that will enhance public trust by improving the services that the Judicial Branch offers to you and to the thousands of people who enter our courthouses every day.


You have a very full plate, and I have asked that your group do the following: No. 1, to examine public perceptions of our state judicial system; No. 2, to conduct scientifically valid opinion research to determine the level of satisfaction of people who use the court system; No. 3, to hold public hearings throughout the state to obtain input; and finally, to conduct focus groups of lawyers, judges, court personnel and others who are involved with the court system. We have many people who are involved with the judicial system, and we hope to reach out to all of them.

You will be pleased to find out that the Steering Committee and staff have already been working hard by laying the groundwork for this Commission. I would now ask you to bring your perspective and all of your talents to the table.

A linchpin of your work will be focus groups that are currently underway. By the time this stage of the process is complete, we expect to have reached dozens of constituents. We will ask them what trends they see, how the Judicial Branch may best respond, and what’s important to them as they deal with the Judicial Branch.

With information gathered from the focus groups, the public hearings and the survey, the Commission will develop outcome goals and strategies. I want to stress that these goals must have performance measures built into them. In addition, you should know that there never will be a quote, unquote, final report. Instead, we will have an annual review built into the process to see what has been accomplished and what has not.

I realize how ambitious all of this sounds – and how much time it will take. However, I believe that the Judicial Branch must plan for its future.

Shortly before I became Chief Justice, I heard a wonderful homily by Father Mark Massa at Fordham University’s graduation. His theme was to “think small, act large.” Those words struck a chord with me because they captured to a “T” what my hopes are for the branch. He explained that thinking small is focusing on the things you have some degree of control over – your words and your habits, the job you can get done in the next eight hours.

My belief is that by thinking small this commission will come up with many innovative and practical strategies that will help to improve the services we provide to the public.

He also spoke of “acting large,” or as he explained, “be extravagant in your hopes for making this world a better place and be ambitious in your aspirations, especially for others.” Acting large is fulfilling the Judicial Branch’s primary role: that of serving the public. Embracing this attitude and culture is essential if we are to achieve our vision of an open, accessible, transparent and accountable court system. In the end, it is this vision that will guide us and in the end, it is this vision that will enhance public trust in our courts.

Again, thank you for accepting to serve on this commission. I look forward to hearing from you on the progress of your work.


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