Judge Robert A. Ainsworth, Jr. Memorial Lecture, Loyola University School of Law: So Why Do We Call Them Trial Courts?

Citation
Title:
Judge Robert A. Ainsworth, Jr. Memorial Lecture, Loyola University School of Law: So Why Do We Call Them Trial Courts?
Year: 
Publication: 
Volume: 
Issue: 
Start Page: 
End Page: 
Publisher: 
Language: 
English
URL: 
Select license: 
Select License
DOI: 
PMID: 
ISSN: 
Abstract:

Judge Robert A. Ainsworth, Jr. Memorial Lecture, Loyola University School of Law: So Why Do We Call Them Trial Courts?

Patrick E. Higginbotham

55 S.M.U. L. Rev. 1405 (2002).

    A society’s dispute resolution machinery is a window into its makeup.  The fairness of its processes and its ability to enforce the rule of law are fair measures of the freedom and quality of life the society offers.  From the Articles of Confederation through the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, throughout our history, we have insisted upon trials in public courthouses, a subscription to the belief that law, with all its complexity, rests upon natural principles of fairness and justice knowable by every man.

   

    In recent years, however, there has begun a large change in the United States federal system.  It is a change of an order that differs from all past changes; a change in its very architecture. Lacking a provable etiology, the changes are most easily described as a syndrome with two conspicuous symptoms: the decline in trials, and the nigh parallel surge in private dispute resolution.  These symptoms are further defined by the attending decline in participation of lay citizens and the state in our justice system.

    The story of the decline in trials is not a brief tale for the bar or an inside story about courthouse statistics.  Rather, it is a story about large changes in vital components of the federal judicial system, changes which should be of grave concern.  Ultimately, law unenforced by courts is no law.  The United States needs trials, and a steady stream of them, to ground its normative standards, and to make them sufficiently clear that persons can abide by them in planning their affairs, and never have to face the courthouse.

Keywords: federal trial courts, jury trials, United States District Courts, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Judge Robert Ainsworth, Ainsworth Memorial Lecture, Loyola University School of Law, federal judicial system, justice system, constitutional principles, Administrative Office of the Federal Courts, mediation, discovery, Advisory Committee on the Civil Rules, pretrial preparation, settlement.

Comments
  • Recommend Us