Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) delivered the following statement during the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet’s hearing on transparency and ethics in our federal court system.
Chairman Goodlatte: This morning the Judiciary Committee continues its examination of our nation’s federal judicial system. It is widely recognized that the trust that the American people have in our court system is crucial to its success.
While this trust has been cultivated over many generations, it can be lost quickly. This is why it is important that the Judiciary continue to operate in a transparent manner at all times and handle the disputes before it efficiently, ethically, and impartially.
This morning we will hear from three witnesses who will present their ideas regarding ways to increase judicial transparency and accountability. Their suggestions include:
- Greater use of audio and video recordings in courtrooms
- Free or lower cost access to court documents through the PACER system or potential replacements for it, and
- Public disclosure of recusal decisions.
Other issues we will consider today are the judicial disability and disciplinary processes. Decisions made by judges with undiagnosed medical conditions can be subject to challenge years later. It is crucial that all judges have the resources and confidential programs needed to assist them if they have any questions about their fitness to serve.
Regarding judicial discipline, there have been relatively few impeachments of federal judges by the House of Representatives. The federal judiciary has its own internal disciplinary system that, in theory, addresses misconduct before the conduct escalates to the level where impeachment would be warranted. However, many Members of Congress have questions about the judiciary’s disciplinary system. Today, we will explore this system further, including examining the remedies available for judicial misconduct, their application, and the constitutional and other limitations on those remedies.
Thank you to the witnesses for making time available to be here in order to provide testimony for improving our Nation’s Judiciary.