On March 6, 2013, Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson addressed the Texas Legislature in the annual "State of the Judiciary" presentation. Although traditionally considered a "health and funding" check on our state's courts, Justice Wallace characterized his speech this year as a "Call to Arms."
In his heartfelt address, which can definitely be considered as a departure from tradition, Justice Jefferson focused on a few universally important questions:
Is our system of justice is working for the people it has promised to serve?
Do we have liberty and justice for all?
Or have we come to accept liberty and justice only for some?
With brutal honesty, Jefferson admitted that in many areas, the Texas judiciary falls far short of the standards set by a justice and equality-loving populace:
For those who can afford legal services, we have a top-notch judicial system. Highly qualified lawyers help courts dispense justice fairly and efficiently. But that kind of representation is expensive. A larger swath of litigation exists in which the contestants lack wealth, insurance is absent, and public funding is not available. Some of our most essential rights – those involving families, homes, and livelihoods – are the least protected. Veterans languish for months before their disability, pension, and educational benefits arrive. As a result of the recent financial crisis, lower- and middle-income homeowners and tenants face foreclosure and eviction. Ever-increasing numbers of consumers and small businesses have filed for bankruptcy. And few can afford a lawyer to guide them through these crises.The full transcript of the speech can be found HERE. It is most definitely worth a read.