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Chief Justice Magnuson: Courts Facing A "New Normal" of Shrinking Funding and Increased Use of Technology

Posted: Tuesday, July 06, 2010

"If you ask me what the state of our judiciary is, my first answer is that it is in good hands. My second response is that the judiciary is wrestling with a whole new normal," said Chief Justice Eric J. Magnuson in his anuual State of the Judiciary address June 24 in Minneapolis.

Chief Justice Magnuson said the "new normal" involves an aging state population, reduced state funding, and pressure to increase the use of technology to lower costs, increase access for the public, and maintain court services in low volume, rural courts. 

"Times have changed dramatically since I first clerked for Chief Justice Sheran and Chief Judge Amdahl back in the 1970s," Chief Justice Magnuson said.  "We had Selectric typewriters, not computers.  Letters and memos had not been replaced by e-mail.  Things moved more slowly because they could not move any faster.  Now, communication is nearly instantaneous, making us all more connected, for better or worse."

"Courts were different then, too," he continued.  "Some may pine for the old days, but to meet the demands of modern society, courts have had to change.  The trick has been and will be making change for the better, and not just for the sake of change."

Magnuson described several initiatives the Judicial Branch has undertaken to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. 

Read the full text of Chief Justice Magnuson's remarks

View a video recording of the remarks