Justice Joseph Nadeau:
I believe we could improve the judicial system and relations among the branches by adopting the method for funding the judicial branch that is in place in Puerto Rico (not a foreign country, of course.) The courts receive a specific percentage of Puerto Rico’s revenue (at present 4%) to fund all court activity. This removes the judges from arguments over funding and reduces stress between the judiciary and the legislature.
To become a judge in several foreign countries including Indonesia, a person must attend a judicial school and serve as an apprentice before taking the bench. Although most of our judges have extensive legal experience before becoming judges, I think we would benefit by requiring a newly appointed judge to attend judicial training for a period (weeks not months) then serve with a sitting judge for a period (weeks not months) before taking the bench.
Compared to other countries, our civil proceedings are too cumbersome and expensive, and the American criminal justice system has become too focused on punishment. Too many convicted defendants are spending too many years behind bars and too few are returning to their families and communities with essential social and vocational skills.
There is much about the inquisitory (vs. adversary) system that we could use.
I think that much of the world has a higher respect for the law than the US. Here we often think of the law as a game where winning is more important than the truth.
At first, I was tempted to answer that the conviviality between the prosecutors and defense counsel is something we might might import. However, in New Hampshire, at least, our conviviality and common understanding far surpass that which I saw in Europe and the feigned congenial relationship between barristers and solicitors, and between defense lawyers and prosecutors.