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

by Deborah R. Hensler


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price
Add to Cart Paperback6 pages Free

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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.