The American justice system doesn’t come out looking so good in a global survey of the rule of law sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA) and other organizations. As reported by James Podgers for the ABA Journal (link here):
A report released by the World Justice Project—a 3-year-old initiative sponsored by the ABA and a number of other organizations representing various disciplines—says the United States lags behind other leading developed nations on all but one of nine key measures of adherence to the rule of law. The findings for each country are based on surveys of some 1,000 residents in three leading cities as well as experts in the law and other disciplines.
The absence of corruption, respect for human rights, and fair enforcement of laws are among the factors in which the U.S. ranked at or near the bottom compared to other wealthy nations.
Challenge to the legal profession
Obviously this is an unflattering picture of the state of civil and criminal justice in the U.S., and it comes via the co-sponsorship of the mainstream ABA. Some might claim that we have to do a better job of promoting the American justice system, but I suggest that changing reality is the more necessary first step.
Bar associations and other lawyers’ groups may dig into this report and ask, in an institutional or organizational context, what should be done. That would be a good step forward. Nonetheless, it’s also incumbent upon individual members of the legal profession to ask ourselves, How am I making the American justice system more ethical, accessible, humane, and fair?
For the full World Justice Report, WJP Rule of Law Index 2010 Report (pdf), go here.