Why we don't know more about the civil justice system, and what we could do about it

by Deborah R. Hensler

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This article identifies three reasons why we know less about the civil justice system than about many public policy issues: First, most of the costs of the civil justice system are borne by private parties. Second, no federal government agency has a clear mandate to conduct or support civil justice policy research and analysis. Third, there is no statistical infrastructure to support ongoing investigation of the civil justice system. The author suggests that it is possible to do a better job of measuring how the civil justice system operates and the consequences of changes in substantive and procedural rules, and outlines factors that must be considered in designing a civil justice indicators series. She urges that we begin to define the crucial information needed to monitor the processes and outcomes of the civil justice system.

Originally published in: USC Law, Fall 1994, pp. 10-15.

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