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In the years following the 2008 financial crisis, media accounts of state courthouse closures, judicial vacancies, and reductions in court services have become widespread. Continuing fiscal pressure on the states has led to corresponding pressure for court system retrenchment. Less clear is whether the adaptation of the courts to the new fiscal environment has led to more sustainable funding and operating models for state court systems. A series of related policy questions follows: How confident are we that state courts can continue to operate during periods of severe economic disruption? Did the adjustment of the courts to post-2008 fiscal conditions result in any basic change to access to justice or to the nature and quality of the services provided by the courts? And for the future, how can we ensure that state courts will retain their fundamental identity and purpose and continue to be available when we need them most?

On January 12, 2015, the UCLA–RAND Center for Law and Public Policy held a conference in Santa Monica, California, to address these questions. Panelists at the event sought to examine the depth of the resourcing problem for state courts, discuss impact and collateral implications, and identify policy options and practical steps that could be taken to mitigate the challenges. Invited participants included judges, state court administrators, prominent members of the bar, and legal scholars. This report summarizes the panel discussions and major points made by the participants, as well as their responses during question-and-answer sessions with the conference audience.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction and Introductory Remarks

  • Chapter Two

    Financing, Governance, and the "State" of State Courts

  • Chapter Three

    Constitutional Dimensions to the Funding of State Courts

  • Chapter Four

    Keynote Address: Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California

  • Chapter Five

    Empirical Research on Resourcing to State Courts

  • Chapter Six

    Access to Justice and Business-to-Business Litigation

  • Chapter Seven

    Final Keynote Address

  • Appendix

    Conference Agenda

This project is a RAND Venture. Funding was provided by gifts from RAND supporters and income from operations. This conference was convened by the UCLA-RAND Center for Law and Public Policy with the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, a part of RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Conference proceeding series. RAND conference proceedings present a collection of papers delivered at a conference or a summary of the conference.

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