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

Family and Civil Justice Reform

SJI promotes court-based solutions for the myriad of civil case types, such as domestic relations, housing, employment, debt collection, which are overwhelming court dockets. 

Family Justice Initiative

The Family Justice Initiative (FJI), established in 2017 by the Conference of Chief Justices/Conference of State Court Administrators (CCJ/COSCA) , is supported by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ).  The FJI sets forth a model that draws upon data-informed strategies to assist the resolution of family matters. Through screening and assessment tools, and triage case management, judges and court staff can better identify cases that require substantial court-based or community services, and cases requiring minimal court resources and little or no exercise of judicial discretion. 

The project’s first phase included a national assessment of domestic relations case processing in urban courts.  Phase two included the development of national Principles for Family Justice Reform.  Following CCJ’s approval of the Principles, project partners launched Phase Three to implement the Principles in four pilot jurisdictions: Miami-Dade, Florida; Cuyahoga County, Ohio; Pima County, Arizona; and King County, Washington.

Civil Justice Initiative

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS), and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) finalized a three-year project with the release of their report, Transforming Our Civil Justice System for the 21st Century: The Road to Civil Justice Reform.  The report highlights the experiences of four states—Idaho, Maine, Missouri, and Texas – as they worked to implement guidelines adopted by the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) to ensure the just, prompt, and cost-effective resolution of civil cases in state courts.  IAALS and NCSC provided each state with the guidance and tools necessary to support successful implementation, and then circled back to interview those involved.  The experiences of the states in this report, and their use of Transforming Our Civil Justice System for the 21st Century: A Roadmap for Implementation – a set of seven clear steps for courts to follow when implementing change – can provide invaluable guidance to other courts.  The Roadmap steps provide a key framework for reform that states can follow leadership; assessment and definition of issues; engagement of stakeholders to gain input; development of vision and goals for reform; clear recommendations; and action.