Supporting the Nation's Judicial System & the Public it Serves

Courting Justice Listening Tour

On June 10, 2016, judicial leaders from across the country gathered in Los Angeles to record the first edition of “Courting Justice,” a multi-part, televised “listening tour” being produced in cooperation with PBS broadcaster Tavis Smiley and offered during Smiley’s regular programming slot.  Support for “Courting Justice” was provided by SJI, in addition to financial and in-kind resources from the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), Walmart, the California Endowment, and the Public Welfare Foundation.  More information about Courting Justice is available on the NCSC’s website:

Each edition in the series features a town-hall style program inclusive of judges from around the country, who engage in an unprecedented dialogue with the communities they serve in order to provide stakeholders from disenfranchised communities an opportunity to discuss the issues that erode trust in our judicial system.  A recent survey conducted for the NCSC found that only 32 percent of African Americans believe that state courts provide equal justice to all.

Panelists for the June 10th town hall included: Judge Daniel J. Buckley (Superior Court of Los Angeles County); Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye (Supreme Court of California),; Judge Jimmie Edwards (22nd Judicial District, City of St. Louis); Associate Justice Maria P. Rivera (California, First District Court of Appeals, Division Four); and Chief Judge Eric T. Washington (District of Columbia Court of Appeals).  Audience members were drawn from Los Angeles area social justice, advocacy, faith, and small business communities, in addition to local and national court and bar leaders.

“I am gratified that many of the most influential judges in the country are eager to step down from the bench and engage in a free and open exchange with the people most affected by their decisions,” said Tavis Smiley, who serves on the advisory board of the initiative.  “This frank discussion is unprecedented.  Securing the public’s trust in our judicial system is fundamental to our democracy.”

The first in a series of town hall meetings was recorded at Loyola School of Law.  Future dates and locations for town halls will be announced as schedules are finalized.