Justice Initiatives, Inc. (“JI”) has completed another year of service to the North Carolina justice system and Mecklenburg County by advocating for “reforms related to the Judicial Branch’s organization, structure and/or administration” and for “the needs of court system offices and programs within the 26th Judicial District, NC.” JI recently released its 2011-2012 Annual Report which reflects the depth and breadth of the organization’s commitment to bridging gaps between our local communities and the court system, as well as making a difference to the judicial branch statewide. Below are a few highlights from JI’s past year.
Judicial System Budget Cuts: During 2011-2012, JI focused significant effort on responding to the continued financial strain on the North Carolina judicial branch. JI succeeded in supporting efforts to prevent the Family Court program and the Trial Court Administrator position from being eliminated due to budget cuts. JI also forged relationships with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the North Carolina Bar Association in an effort to help protect the state’s judicial system from future cuts in funding. The annual report reflects that by reaching out to the Chamber, JI has “been able to demonstrate why the business community has a vested interest in the efficient and effective administration of justice and to generally gain their support as allies in protecting the system against further budget cuts.” The Honorable Chase B. Saunders (Ret.), Chair of the JI Board of Directors, also noted in the annual report that JI is seeking opportunities to coordinate with the Bar Association Administration of Justice Committee to maximize the impact that both organizations can have moving forward.
Community Relations: Bridging gaps and fostering trust between our local communities and the court system is a focus of several JI initiatives. JI provided funding to the Strengthening Community Relations series conducted by the Trial Court Administrator’s office which educates court personnel about the cultures of various populations in the Charlotte area in an effort to serve members of those communities better. JI also conducted and/or sponsored continuing education programs, Town Hall Meetings and Court and the Media Seminars to further the goals of educating the community about the role and functioning of the courts and building public trust and confidence.
Fundraising: JI uses a significant portion of the money it raises to fund grants and awards to further its goal of “supporting organizations and projects with a legal nexus in our community.” The Evening at the Courthouse fundraiser coordinated by JI is an event that the Charlotte community has looked forward to for six years. Last year’s sixth annual event was supported by many donations, exceeding JI’s fundraising goal. Registration for the 2013 Evening at the Courthouse on April 25th is now open: Evening at the Courthouse Registration. In FY 2011-2012, JI worked with the Mecklenburg County Bar Foundation to host the first annual Legal Eagle Charity Golf Tournament which was a great success.
Grants & Awards: JI provides grant funding through a competitive process to support a wide array of projects that address needs within the Mecklenburg County Judicial District. According to the annual report, JI awarded 16 grants in FY 2011-2012 to support programs that address domestic violence, drug treatment, CLE training for court appointed attorneys, juror appreciation, and more. Read more about Justice Initiatives’ grant funding. JI also awards the Raising the Bar Award each year to a court employee who has made a significant contribution to advancing the Mecklenburg County court system. And this past year, JI initiated the UNCC Justice Initiatives Award which was presented to two UNCC students (one undergraduate and one graduate) who are pursuing careers in the legal system.
This summary of highlights from JI’s FY 2011-2012 Annual Report only scratches the surface. JI supports many more projects like its Court Camp and the I-CAN!TM Legal online application system, which allows individuals to complete court forms for a low cost. Read the full JI Annual Report here: JI 2011-2012 Annual Report and visit JI’s website www.justiceinitiatives.com for more information about the organization’s goals and accomplishments in supporting our court system.
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