What just happened? November 2017 roundup

The month in a nutshell: judicial independence under siege in Europe and Latin America, a Ohio judge beclowns himself (twice!), and transition to twenty-first technology continues to pose challenges for courts.

November 2017 highlighted threats to judicial independence across the world. The European Union kept up pressure on the governments of Poland and Romania to halt the erosion of their judiciary’s independent role. And separately, the EU charged Romania and Bulgaria with insufficient progress on judicial reform. Venezuela continued a sad descent into chaos, with one judge seeking asylum with her family in Canada — and sharing harrowing stories of her treatment under the Maduro regime.

Stateside, the good work of most judges nationwide was overshadowed by the remarkably poor judgment of Ohio Supreme Court Justice William O’Neill, who first refused to recuse himself from new cases even after announcing his intention to run for governor, and then made a shocking Facebook post in which he revealed, in detail, his sexual history. Even amid calls for his resignation from his own peers, O’Neill has refused to leave the court until at least February or to call off his gubernatorial run.

Less visibly but with equal significance, two new reports revealed that courts are continuing to struggle with integrating the internet into their daily work. The Cook County (Illinois) courts were sued for allegedly failing to post certain court documents on their website in a timely way, and the federal court system’s primary website was deemed poor in comparison with other federal government sites.

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