Part 1 of 3
Hamlet is just the most famous of characters to complain about the pace of matters in court. He is far from the only one upset with the legal system.
Except for those held without probable cause or charges in Guantanamo, most persons awaiting access to justice in America’s criminal cases find the wheels of the legal system move apace. In fact, criminal defendants often seek to retard the system.
On the other hand, in civil cases from small claims to multi-billion dollar suits parties often bemoan the extended time between when a lawsuit is filed and when it is tried, mediated, settled between the parties with the help of the judge or the parties just give up and leave the case hanging in some musty file cabinet for their grandchildren to deal with.
About 95% of all lawsuits commenced in America never get tried. Yet from the time a case is initiated to when it dies from exhaustion can take years. If courts are charged with resolving conflicts, why not get them resolved as close to when they are started as fairness permits?
And since the parties involved in a case know more about their concerns than anyone else, why should they turn their lives over to a judge or jury or appellate court that knows only what the parties bring to the attention of these strangers?
The old adage there was never a good war or a bad peace applies in spades to lawsuits. To avoid “the law’s delay” people should avoid the law, if possible. Of course, some wars would be fought until there are no soldiers left alive if outside peacemakers were not brought in. The same is true in about 5% of lawsuits.
However, for 95% of life, there is light at the beginning of the tunnel. The legal system should be used to help people resolve their own conflicts as quickly, fairly and painlessly as possible.
For a little while I would like to suggest a few ways to do this. Maybe, if you have a case in mind, you might be interested in resolving it without permanent damage to your lives or bank accounts. Next week we can start with a pre-natal, i.e., pre-lawsuit approach, then move on towards the more political convention type resolution.