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Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers
Remarks at the September 29, 2009 meeting of the Public Service and Trust Commission

Chief Justice Chase T. RogersGood afternoon. I want to start by thanking each and every one of you for your membership on the Public Service and Trust Commission and subsequent development of the Judicial Branch’s first ever strategic plan. Simply put, what you accomplished in just over two years is nothing short of amazing.

You collectively spent thousands of hours getting input as to what was working, what was not working and what improvements we could make. Then you had the difficult job of analyzing the information. From all of this, you developed a comprehensive strategic plan that is currently being integrated into the Branch’s daily operations. All of these tasks involved a tremendous amount of commitment and time, which you generously donated with the shared ultimate goal of improving the services that our state court system provides. You never lost sight of the basic premise that, if we are to have the public’s support, we must continue to ensure that people who use our courts have the opportunity to be heard in a meaningful way and are treated with respect in order that we can do justice.

I am confident that, because of your work, we will reach out to more people and provide better services and ultimately, enhance the public's trust. This was the ultimate goal in appointing you to serve on this commission, and you have surpassed everyone’s expectations.

Interestingly, the plan is even more critical during these difficult economic times. You may be aware that the Branch’s budget was reduced by $17 million dollars in rescissions last fiscal year and another 12.8 million dollars as of right now for this fiscal year. In addition, approximately 225 Judicial Branch employees left under the Early Retirement Incentive Program. This loss of personnel is only exacerbated by a hiring freeze that has been in effect for about a year. As a result of this freeze, we have not filled over 125 positions that have become vacant.

Even though the budget is tight and resources are limited, I want to assure you that the Judicial Branch will continue implementing the strategic plan. Many of the recommendations that came out of this plan may be implemented with little or no cost. In short, this plan is the route by which we can continue to provide enhanced services to the public.

As we conclude this last meeting of the Public Service and Trust Commission and move forward, I want to stress that we will continue to seek your suggestions in the ongoing implementation of the strategic plan. As I just told you, the branch has no money hanging around. I tried to think of what I could do to show my appreciation. My thoughts turned to food -- specifically the best cake in the world!



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