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House Committee Looks at ADR's Effect on Courthouse Usage

Coming this afternoon:  the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy will examine better use of the nation’s federal courts.

The hearing, beginning at 3:00 p.m., will look at, among other things, alternative dispute resolution’s role in reducing the use of courthouses, as well as adjudication.  

The hearing, “Courtroom Use: Access to Justice, Effective Judicial Administration, and Courtroom Security,” can be viewed live at a link here.

Attached is one of the papers submitted by a hearing witness, Yale Law School Prof. Judith Resnik, who discusses how the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings have pushed more people into arbitration.  She suggests that the subcommittee “support the judiciary in creating district-bydistrict committees . . . to address questions of courtroom usage in each district.”

She points to ADR and, in particular, mandatory arbitration as reasons courthourses are underused. On ADR, Resnick writes,

Federal judges are now multi-taskers—sometimes deployed as managers of lawyers and cases, sometimes acting as super-senior partners providing advice for both parties, sometimes serving as settlement masters or mediators, and at other points as referral sources sending disputants either to different personnel within courthouses or to institutions other than the courts. As a consequence, the trial judge on the bench is becoming (to borrow the words of one noted federal district court judge) an “endangered species."

(Citing D. Brock Hornby, The Business of the U.S. District Courts, 10 GREEN BAG 2d 453, 462 (2007).)

--Russ Bleemer, Editor, Alternatives