Thursday, January 24, 2008

Survey tracks views on courts

Virginians don’t trust our court system as much as they trust medical professionals. But they still trust the courts more than “the media.”

These are some of the findings of a telephone survey of 1,100 randomly selected Virginia residents released last week by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Of those called, 600 had no prior experience with the court system, and 500 had experience within the past five years. About one-quarter of the “experienced” respondents interacted only with the clerk’s office. Their primary complaint? There should be more parking.

With or without direct experience, two-thirds of survey respondents are confident that people are treated fairly in Virginia courts.

However, the survey also reports mixed responses on how different groups are treated, with some perceived distinctions in treatment based on whether people are wealthy, white, or English-speaking. Responses on race indicated that 78 percent of the respondents were white, 13 percent African-American

Although responses didn’t show a perception that men fare better than women in Virginia courts, men are more likely than women to trust the courts “a lot.”

The survey was conducted in October 2007 and the full survey report will be available later this year.

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