The Council was established is for the encouragement of dialogue between the members of the Council through a non-profit association, on matters of common interest in areas including, but not limited to, the following: continuing legal education, preservation of custom and tradition within the confines of existing judicial systems, coordination with law enforcement agencies, public education in the areas of substance abuse and domestic community relations, and judicial administration.
The "Pacific Judicial Conference" came out of needs that were demonstrated for the judicial education of the islands of the Pacific. The first effort was the Pacific Institute of Judicial Administration (PIJA) which was to be housed at the Richardson Law School in Honolulu; the Director was a recently retired Chief Justice of the Federated States of Micronesia. Unfortunately, he was unable to raise the funding that was deemed to be necessary for the Pacific-wide educational program. As he was struggling to do so, the Chief Justice of Papua New Guinea, the Chief Justice of Fiji, and the Chief Justice of Samoa decided that they would develop an educational program and sought and received funding from AUSAID. Thereafter, AUSAID and its New Zealand counterpart have been very helpful in bringing this program forward to the southern part of the Pacific.
The unfortunate part was that at its beginning, the new organization made a division between the North Pacific and the South Pacific and indicated that the territories and former trust territories of the United States should be handled by the United States
The Pacific Judicial Council was formed, bringing together the Chief Judges of American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, the Northern Marianas Islands, Palau, and the Marshall Islands each year.
Every other year, the Chief Justices and judges met at the Pacific Judicial Conference with all of the judges of the six jurisdictions. Based on this organization, it seemed that the Pacific Judicial Council was the best avenue to accomplish the judicial education needs of the territories and Freely Associated States.
The Council’s Role
The Pacific Judicial Council assists in the development and delivery of continuing judicial education and court professional training, and overall improvement of the administration of justice in the member courts.
The Pacific Judicial Council develops a wide variety of training programs designed to strengthen court governance and the rule of law, improve judicial systems and processes, and develop the skills of newly appointed judicial officers. The objectives of the training programs were as follows:
- The training of judges to provide fair, impartial, and speedy justice, with a bench imbued with integrity, professionalism, and competence;
- The training of court leaders with ethical principles to train court staff and lead courts in the 21st century;
- The training of lawyers to provide a pool of qualified candidates to fill future judicial vacancies;
- The training of court interpreters to provide access to justice to local communities;
- The training of probation officers, court security officers, and other court personnel to effectively and efficiently administer access to justice.