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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77816 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Longitudinal Study of the Judicial Role in Family and Commercial Disputes
Author(s): J J Perlstein
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 171
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20530
Publication Number: FJRP-81/001
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Statistics
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The objective of this study is to trace changes in the frequency of filings over an 80-year period in selected categories of cases in five State trial courts and to test two hypotheses about the nature of court activities.
Abstract: The first hypothesis tested in the study is that commercial and family litigation has recently lost its adversariness. Evidence of this transformation is the increase in uncontested judgments and petitions for relief. No-fault divorces and default judgments in the plaintiff's favor exemplify this trend. The second hypothesis is that the kinds of cases brought for judicial resolution increasingly depart from those that the courts have typically been best suited to handle. Examples of the new trend are cases enforcing children's rights within the family unit. Six time periods were chosen to measure the changes in the type and number of cases filed in five State courts: 1903-04, 1918-19, 1933-34, 1948-49, 1963-64, and 1976-77. Approximately 6,000 cases were sampled; this allowed roughly 200 cases to be examined for every period at each site. Trend analysis reveals that the composition of the civil caseload in the five trial courts of general jurisdiction has changed considerably over the past 80 years, but findings are mixed with regard to tested hypotheses. Some data show that much of the courts' work is becoming more routine, but there are other instances that indicate the dispute settlement function is not necessarily diminishing. It may be concluded that the filing or threat of filing a suit may induce settlement in some cases, and it is taking progressively longer to settle or dispose of these uncontested cases. Trials still constitute approximately the same proportion of all judgments as at the turn of the century, however. Routine administration of cases may be more frequent but it has not replaced the courts' function as dispute resolvers. Extensive tables, graphs, and footnotes are provided in the study. (Author summary modified)
Index Term(s): Dispute resolution; Domestic relations; Longitudinal studies; State courts; Trend analysis; Trial courts
Note: Extensively rewritten version of the final report submitted by Arthur Young and Co. and Public Sector Research, Inc. to the Federal Justice Research Program.
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