American General Jurisdiction Trial Courts: New Visions, New Guidelines
Parness, Jeffrey A.
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Today, American trial courts are trying less and managing more private civil cases. They are also losing many private claims to other dispute resolvers. The traditional role of the trial judge as a neutral, detached, and passive adjudicator for private civil cases has given way to the trial judge who is a more active case manager, a more aggressive settlement facilitator, and an appellate-type reviewer of case decisions first made elsewhere. Unfortunately, contemporary written civil procedure laws do not reflect this new reality, increasingly reflecting only legend. New general visions of contemporary trial court decision making would help civil procedure lawmakers better formulate written procedural law guidelines for trial courts. Unfortunately, the chance for such a new perspective was not pursued in the recent proposed revisions to the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, scheduled for ABA consideration in February, 2007. In particular, there is a need now for new written laws on trial court settlements as well as on trial court oversight of earlier private arbitrations and administrative agency adjudications.