Complete findings for the Judicial Council’s 2005-2006 public trust and confidence assessment are contained in the study reports for phase I and phase II. Set forth below are some highlights in the findings.

Receiving and seeking court information

  • Court users and judicial branch members overwhelmingly favor having more self-help centers inside the courthouse, with court users also favoring newsletters and mobile self-help centers in key community locations.
  • Those who have used a court Website are very positive about the content and helpfulness of these sites.

Experience in a court case: Incidence and consequences

  • Californians who use some of the state’s highest volume courts, such as family or traffic court, often report feeling stress and confusion.
  • However, most court users with jury experience give the courts high ratings.

Barriers to taking a case to court

  • Study participants cited finding a good, affordable attorney as the main barrier preventing Californians from taking a case to court. (California is working on expansion of programs that assist self-represented litigants, like JusticeCorps and other efforts to improve access and fairness.)

Diversity and the needs of a diverse population

  • California’s diverse population creates many challenges for the courts in meeting the needs of court users.
  • Court users, community leaders, and judicial branch members alike believe that more interpreters, and increased diversity on the bench, would strengthen confidence in the courts among minorities.

Fairness in procedures and outcomes

  • Procedural fairness – having a sense that court decisions are made through processes that are fair – emerged as the core concern to the public.
  • Californians were less likely to say that the courts are doing a good job on one element of procedural fairness, having a voice (having a sense that those in authority listen to the people involved in a court case).

Expectations and performance

  • The unmet expectation identified most often was the desire for the courts to report on job performance.
  • Increased contact between the public and the courts may make it easier for the public to assess and provide feedback on the performance of the courts and enable the courts to better understand and communicate with various communities.