Author: Center for American Progress | Date: 19 December 2019
A new column from the Center for American Progress offers five guiding principles that could help make the nation’s civil justice system fairer, more accessible, and more inclusive.
For the parties involved, the stakes of civil proceedings are extraordinarily high. Child custody; orders of protection against a violent stalker; foreclosure of and eviction from a home; and falling prey to predatory debt collectors are all matters handled by civil courts. For some, winning or losing in court can mean the difference between life and death.Unfortunately, the column says, deficiencies in the civil justice system perpetuate power imbalances. Those who can hire private attorneys are much more likely to prevail in court or avoid court altogether. These power imbalances prevent people—mostly low- and middle-income people and disproportionately people of color—from prevailing in their cases, resulting in miscarriages of justice.
The column recommends that reforms to the civil justice system focus on the following goals:
- Officials across all levels of government must make civil justice reform a priority
- Legal aid should be available to everyone
- Civil justice reforms must reflect the system’s interconnected nature
- Civil justice reform proposals must reflect cultural competency
- Rules governing civil proceedings must be fair and compassionate
Read the column: “5 Principles for Civil Justice Reform,” by Danielle Root and Maggie Jo Buchanan.