Friday, March 02, 2007

Article Argues for Revision of Guidelines to Reflect the New Role of the Trial Court

The University of Kansas Law Review published an article in the October 2006 issue by Jeffrey A. Parness, professor at the Northern Illinois University College of Law, arguing for revision of the guidelines for trial courts and judges, entitled American General Jurisdiction Trial Courts: New Visions, New Guidelines. Here is an excerpt:

There is today a need for additional written guidelines on alternative nonevidentiary and evidentiary hearings designed to prompt settlements as well as on judicial and private settlement conferences. Similarly, there is a need for new guidelines on trial court review of private arbitrations and administrative agency adjudications. The adoption of such standards would be greatly facilitated if the American Bar Association (ABA) were to revise the general description of the trial judge's role in civil litigation, set forth in materials such as the Model Code of Judicial Conduct and the Standards Relating to Trial Courts. The descriptions of American trial judges and courts, and the lawyers and others working with them, too often exclude significant avenues of civil case resolution and significant review responsibilities of trial court judges. If general visions of American trial courts are limited, written laws on these same trial courts might address only those matters envisioned rather than all matters of import. . . .

The traditional role of general jurisdiction trial courts in civil litigation will first be explored. . . . Next, the new trial court role will be described, where there is an expectation of fewer trials, more judicially managed settlements, and more appellate review of civil claim resolutions initially made elsewhere. Finally, some possible new guidelines on civil case settlement and on trial court review responsibilities will be posited, following an illustration of the unfortunate consequences that flow from a lack of general and particular codified norms.


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