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NCJ Number: 50410 Find in a Library
Title: UNDERSTANDING TRIAL COURTS - A CRITIQUE OF SOCIAL SCIENCE APPROACHES
Journal: JUDICATURE  Volume:61  Issue:7  Dated:(FEBRUARY 1978)  Pages:318-326)
Author(s): A SARAT
Corporate Author: American Judicature Soc
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 9
Sponsoring Agency: American Judicature Soc
Chicago, IL 60601-7401
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH APPROACHES TO THE TRIAL COURT PROBLEMS OF RESOURCE ALLOCATION AND INTERNAL ORGANIZATIONAL CONTROL ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: AMERICAN TRIAL COURTS ARE FACED WITH TWO MAJOR PROBLEMS: RATIONALLY ALLOCATING RESOURCES TO DEAL WITH THE EXPANDING SCOPE OF LITIGATION; AND IMPROVING THE INTERNAL OPERATIONS OF THE COURTS. SYSTEMATIC, EMPIRICAL STUDY OF TRIAL COURTS BY SOCIAL SCIENTISTS IS RELATIVELY RECENT. SUCH RESEARCH HAS TENDED TO FOCUS ON DECISIONS RATHER THAN OPERATIONS. IF SOCIAL SCIENCE IS TO REEXAMINE THE NATURE AND FUNCTION OF TRIAL COURTS, THEIR SOCIAL ROLE, AND THE DYNAMICS OF THEIR INSTITUTIONAL LIFE, CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS ARE NEEDED TO IDENTIFY SALIENT RESEARCH ISSUES AND TO DELINEATE RESEARCH PRIORITIES. TWO SUCH FRAMEWORKS ARE EXPLICIT IN EXISTING TRIAL COURT RESEARCH: THE FUNCTIONALIST APPROACH, WHICH SEEKS TO IDENTIFY AND DESCRIBE THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES AMONG COURTS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS ASSUMED TO PERFORM SIMILAR FUNCTIONS; AND THE ORGANIZATIONAL APPROACH, WHICH CONCENTRATES ON INTERNAL PROCESSES AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE COURTS AS ORGANIZATIONS. THESE TWO FRAMEWORKS POINT IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS. THE FUNCTIONALIST APPROACH EMPHASIZES RESEARCH ON THE RELATION OF COURTS AND OTHER DISPUTE-PROCESSING INSTITUTIONS. THE ORGANIZATIONAL APPROACH INDICATES A NEED FOR INQUIRY INSIDE THE COURTS THEMSELVES. EACH APPROACH COMPLEMENTS THE OTHER; EACH REQUIRES A VARIETY OF RESEARCH TECHNIQUES. THERE IS A NEED TO STUDY TRIAL COURTS IN A HOLISTIC MANNER, TO GAIN AN ACCURATE PICTURE OF THE NATURE AND FUNCTION OF THE COURTS, AND TO DEVISE STRATEGIES FOR APPLYING RESEARCH TO DAY-TO-DAY PROBLEMS. (AUTHOR ABSTRACT MODIFIED--LKM)
Index Term(s): Court management; Organization studies; Research; Research methods; Trial courts
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50410

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