Trials Vanish as Litigation Grows
Despite the continual rise of legal activity, the number of trials is declining.
(PRWEB) November 7, 2004
The absolute number of civil trials in federal court has fallen by sixty percent since the 1980s. Criminal trials, bankruptcy trials, and trials in state courts have displayed comparable declines. A study published in the recent issue of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies explores this issue. ÂAlthough virtually every other indicator of legal activity is rising trials are declining, not only in relation to cases in courts, but to the size of the population and the size of the economy,Â states author Marc Galanter. The decline has been recent and steep.
There are five times as many civil cases in the federal courts as there were forty years ago. The decline in trials owes something to mass settlements in tort cases, to CongressÂs campaign to suppress prisoner petitions, to increased cost and complexity, and to the proliferation of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) forums. Perhaps the largest factor of all is a shift in judicial ideology and court practice, marked by the onset of managerial judging and the multiplication of summary judgments and other forms of non-trial adjudication. ÂThe change is less a reflection of the cases coming in,Â Galanter explainsÂ than of what happens to them in the courts.Â
This study is published in the current issue of Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. Media wishing to receive a pdf of this article please contact journalnews@bos. blackwellpublishing. net
The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (JELS) is a peer-edited, peer-refereed, interdisciplinary journal that publishes high-quality, empirically-oriented articles of interest to scholars in a diverse range of law and law-related fields, including civil justice, corporate law, criminal justice, domestic relations, economics, finance, health care, political science, psychology, public policy, securities regulation, and sociology.
Marc Galanter is John and Rylla Bosshard Professor of Law and Professor of South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also a LSE Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Mr. Galanter is available for questions and interviews. Please call him at (608) 239-7254 or email at msgalant@wisc. edu.