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Speeding Up Civil Justice

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 73 Issue: 3 Dated: (October-November 1989) Pages: 162-167
R E Litan
Date Published
6 pages
The Brookings Institution and the Foundation for Change convened a task force of 35 lawyers, law professors, and former judges to consider how court delay and costs can be reduced. Task force recommendations include strict time limits, "staged" discovery, and expanded judicial resources.
The task force commissioned a survey of over 1,000 participants in the civil justice system. More than half the Federal judges, corporate counsel, and public interest litigators in the survey indicated that the costs of processing civil cases represent a major problem. Most judges and lawyers agreed that the high costs of litigation impede access to the civil justice system for ordinary citizens. Respondents also agreed that the most important cause of high litigation costs and delays is abuse of the case discovery process by attorneys. Further, most lawyers and judges believed that the failure of judges to control the discovery process is another important cause of high litigation costs. The task force determined that Congress should not specify a uniform set of reforms to be applied by all district courts nationwide, given the diversity of caseloads and litigation types across different Federal jurisdictions. The task force's core recommendation is that Congress instead direct each Federal district court to develop its own civil justice reform plan. Other recommendations focus on case tracking with associated time limits, "staging" the discovery of cases by courts to accelerate case disposition, procedural reforms, and the expansion of judicial resources. Recommendations specific to clients and attorneys are also offered. 1 table.


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