Civil Cases and Society: Process and Order in the Civil Justice System

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It is not an exaggeration to say that we live in an era preoccupied with the problems and challenges of obtaining justice in civil cases. Concerns expressed about the civil justice system range from warnings that civil court dockets are clogged by disputants too litigious for their own good to complaints that the legal system is used too rarely in civil cases.

The authors approach their analysis with a sense that this subject area is in need of more and better theory. It is an unfortunate fact that discussions of civil justice—and suggestions for reform—have been marked by contradiction and confusion and have been engrossed with small matters that tend to obscure from view the system as a whole.

The first part of this essay focuses on what the civil justice system is and does. It presents a five‐stage model of civil case processing and examines relationships between this model and the criminal justice system. The second part of the essay considers this model in a broader context. Here the authors examine two paradigms of civil case processing and their implications for the implementation of legal norms and the pursuit of justice in society.

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Law & Social Inquiry: Journal of the American Bar Foundation

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