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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 94420 Find in a Library
Title: Reading the Landscape of Disputes - What We Know and Don't Know (and Think We Know) About Our Allegedly Contentious and Litigious Society
Journal: UCLA Law Review  Volume:31  Issue:1  Dated:(October 1983)  Pages:4-71
Author(s): M Galanter
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 68
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study assesses the familiar contention that American legal institutions are overwhelmed by an unprecedented flood of litigation which is attributable to the excessive litigiousness of the population.
Abstract: Data on the prevalence and processing of disputes and litigation were assembled and analyzed. They show that only a small portion of troubles and injuries become disputes; only a small portion of these become lawsuits. Of those that do, the vast majority are abandoned, settled, or routinely processed without full-blown adjudication. Comparison of current with past litigation rates shows a recent rise, but present levels are not historically unprecedented. Admittedly weak comparisons with data from other jurisdictions suggest that per capita rates of litigation in U.S. courts fall in the same general range as those of England, Australia, Ontario (Canada) and others, but are higher than those of other industrialized coutries. Changes in patterns of governmental activity, in the organization of legal work, and in the relation of the media to the law combine to enlarge litigation as a symbolic presence even when direct personal experience of full-blown adjudication has become relatively less frequent. Contemporary patterns of disputing should be seen as a relatively conservative adaptation to changing conditions, including, for example, changes in the production of injuries, knowledge about them, education, and so forth. Elite perceptions of an eruption of pathological litigiousness are viewed as a symptom of the weakness of contemporary legal scholarship. Tabular data and 298 footnotes are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Court studies; Dispute processing; Lawsuits; Trend analysis
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