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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75840 Find in a Library
Title: Role of Courts and the Logic of Court Reform - Notes on the Justice Department's Approach to improving Justice
Journal: Judicature  Volume:64  Issue:7  Dated:(February 1981)  Pages:300-311
Author(s): A Sarat
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Noting the reforms of the American judicial system since 1977, this article states that before courts can be made more accessible and efficient, types of disputes in courts should be determined.
Abstract: In the last 100 years, the type of cases handled by courts has CHANGED and the overall number of cases has increased. Many of the cases should not be handled by the courts, but by the private or public sectors. They include nonadversary cases such as noncontest divorces and creditor-debtor actions, or cases involving specialized knowledge. Thus, in order to make courts more efficient and accessible, standards for allocation of cases must be developed. For example, an alleged violation of constitutional rights should be handled through formal, usually judicial procedures, but a dispute about personal problems, which cannot be ended by court award to one of the parties for breach of contract, should be heard in another kind of forum which can provide final resolutions and binding decisions. The cost of allocation of disputes in relation to derived benefit should also be considered. The next step in the reform should involve decisions as to the range and types of FORMS and the procedures for channeling disputes. They should include channeling cases from Federal to State courts (which are cheaper) and creating alternatives to court. After an allocation plan has been devised, the problems of courts' accessibility and efficiency should be tackled. The first priority must be to provide legal counsel to all who need it. Such measures as development of prepaid legal services plans or legal insurance may be advisable. According to a study by the National Center for State Courts, court efficiency depends largely on the attitudes of lawyers and judges, efforts of Congress, the Justice Department, and the organized bar to handle civil litigation expeditiously. The article contains 49 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Alternative dispute settlement; Arbitration; Civil proceedings; Civil remedies; Court case flow management; Court management; Court reform; Judicial process
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