My Simplification Paper Now Out

Just posted — my Drake Law Review paper on simplification: Some First Thoughts on Court Simplification: The Key to Civil Access and Justice Transformation.

Here is the abstract:

Given the discrepancy between access to justice needs and the resources that are realistically made available, current incremental approaches are almost bound to fail. The only realistic path to providing 100% of litigants with meaningful access to justice is through a simplification approach that both increases the accessibility of the legal system and reduces its costs. Indeed, we may now be in a rare moment of opportunity in which the interests of courts, bar, and legal aid align in favor of such an approach. This Article discusses the causes of excess complexity, the beginnings of simplification in current innovations, and recommends a number of short- and long-term approaches to fundamental simplification, including reconsideration of issues of burden of pleading and production. Among the suggestions is a possible reworking of the Federal Rules (and particularly their state derivatives). Those Rules are now almost one hundred years old and date back to a time when almost everyone in court had lawyers and no one, not even the government, had the luxury of technologynot even photocopiers.

I very much hope that this paper helps spark an ongoing discussion in court bar and legal aid communities about this approach — and particularly about how to get moving on the topic.  What research, what pilots, what incentives, and what partners?

By the way, the whole issue of the Drake Law Review is on Access, and has some great work in it.

 

 

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About richardzorza

I work in access to justice.
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9 Responses to My Simplification Paper Now Out

  1. Pingback: What Are the Implications of George Soros Endorsing Access To Justice As An International Development Goal | Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

  2. Claudia Johnson says:

    Christina–your point on plain language is essential and fundamental. In the report that came out from Canada from Judith McFarlane–language was identified as one of the key barriers by those without lawyers. Some materials were found to be in reading level as high as 13.5–when most of our public reads at much lower level. So moving to a) uniform forms and b) plain language forms needs to be a priority in this process.

    • Cristina Llop says:

      Agreed, Claudia! i have always felt plain language is critical, but once i became an interpreter and saw it with that lense, not just from the lawyer perspective, it became even clearer. people walk out of a courtroom (LEP and English-speakers) not having understood anything that just happened. as the Cal. Public Trust and Confidence survey from 2005 demonstrated, people judge the fairness of the system not on outcome (whether they won or lost) but on procedural fairness. you can’t have procedural fairness if you aren’t able to participate meaningfully because you didn’t understand the proceedings.

  3. Pingback: Richard Posner’s New Book Addresses Sources of Complexity in the Law | Richard Zorza's Access to Justice Blog

  4. Richard, The most recent planning document for the Wisconsin Court System identifies access to justice as a top priority and one of the action steps suggested in the report is to “Collaborate with the Wisconsin Judicial Council to explore simplifying and streamlining civil practice and procedure.” The full report is available here: http://wicourts.gov/courts/committees/docs/ppac1214report.pdf

  5. Pingback: Access to Justice and Simplifying the Legal System | Oregon Legal Research Blog

  6. Pingback: Some thoughts on court simplification | Texas Poverty Law Blog

  7. Stacey Marz says:

    Congratulations Richard!

  8. Cristina Llop says:

    Richard, thank you. I enjoyed reading this. So right on. Some thoughts that came to mind, though perhaps too detailed at this point, relate to plain language and language access. When I first saw the word “simplification” in the title, I initially thought about plain language because I’ve always felt that providing interpreters to interpret legalese in English to legalese in another language, doesn’t accomplish language access in the real sense of the word “access.” So, anyway, I guess I would include a prescription for really simplifying language (in statutes, court forms, court ‘speak’ – with the attendant re-training of court staff, bench officers, attorneys, and every professional in the legal sphere). If people understand forms, instructions (verbal and written) etc. better, it would result in better compliance, fewer mis-filings… you get my point.

    Also, related to cost savings from your recommendations of streamlining and simplifying processes (e.g. not requiring all parties to show up if not needed, reducing numbers of court appearances, etc), are the savings in fewer interpreters needed for LEP litigants trying to make their way through a case.

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