Enlightened Family Justice Institute
Transforming Family Courts
Healing Human Conflicts         Preserving Families

GETTING STARTED:  Transforming family courts might seem like intending to move and reshape a mountain. The task seems so gigantic that most people simply do not start; they live in despair and resignation. We believe that simple people of good will and of one mind are capable of doing what might seem impossible. Most great movements started with one person who had a vision and the will to persevere and the faith to stay in action when the odds of success seem impossible. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela come to mind.

MAKING CHANGE HAPPEN: We have identified six qualities needed to transforming the judicial system, namely: VISION, VALUES, FAITH, LEADERSHIP, PLANNING & ACTION.

VISION: The beginning point is always a Vision – like the “North Star” that guides the sea-faring navigator. A Vision springs from human imagination – the power to “see” things before they are. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger had the vision of a legal profession that serves “as healers of human conflicts”. This is the Vision adopted by EFJI.

VALUES: EFJI proposes to use methods to clarify and objectively identify the core values held by various communities within each county. Why is this important? A “value” is a guide for measuring behavior as “good or bad” (moral sense) or “appropriate or inappropriate” (goal directed). A “value” may be held by an individual or shared by a group. It is common for individuals to hold values that are similar to but not identical with the core values of various groups to which they belong. Group (shared) values are the basis of social “norms” – “norms” that make it possible for individuals to live in groups where behavior is orderly and harmonious. Group values may be called core values or cultural values. A “group” or “community” may be defined by comparing the differences in its core values from the core values held by another group or community. The sense of whether a judicial decision is “fair”, we suggest, is related both to the values held by the individual in court and the core values held by the communities with which the individual identifies. If a judicial decision is aligned with the core values held by the individual, then that person will have a “sense” that the decision is “fair”. “Fairness” and a “sense of fairness” are essential to acceptance of judicial decisions. Consequently, it is important for trial judges to be informed about the core values of their community. A trial judge may mistakenly assume that his/her individual values are aligned with the core values of the communities who elected him/her to office. Therefore, it is important to have the core values of local communities clearly and objectively expressed.

FAITH: Faith is necessary to stay in action in the face of obstacles that seem to be immovable – obstacles that block realization of a dream or vision. By “faith” we simply mean seeing what is possible before it exists and staying in action in unfavorable conditions. Faith, in this sense, is a positive mental attitude when events appear to run contrary to one’s intentions. This positive mental attitude may be held by an individual and shared by members of a community. [According to Matthew 17:20, in answering his disciples’ question about why they failed to heal a boy with seizures after Jesus had heal him, Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you”.]

LEADERSHIP: Leadership has been described as "a process of social influence" in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. Leadership is ‘organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal’. The leader may or may not have any formal authority. Studies of leadership have produced theories involving traits, situational interaction, function, behavior, power, vision and values, charisma, and intelligence, among others. We intend to follow the principles of collaborative leadership. Leadership includes bringing together people with special knowledge from different fields of learning to guide and inform decision making by elected officials and stakeholder groups.

PLANNING: EFJI has a plan for bringing its Vision – family courts that help heal human conflict – into being. Planning is selection of missions, objectives, and "translation of knowledge into action". Planning includes the plan, the thought process, action, and implementation. Planning gives more power over the future. Planning is deciding in advance what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and who should do it. This bridges the gap from where the organization is to where it wants to be. The planning function involves establishing goals and arranging them in logical order. Goals are achieved by a set of planned actions organized by a strategy with milestones to measure performance and goal achievement.

ACTION: Nothing happens without ACTION. A Vision without works is dead. EFJI has an action plan. What we intend is intelligent social action – meaning getting the results we envision. The qualities of Vision, Values, Faith, Leadership, and Planning must be present for actions to be intelligent. Do you want to be part of the ACTION? Then, join EFJI TODAY.