UCLA-RAND Center for Law & Public Policy

Confidentiality, Transparency, and the U.S. Civil Justice System

Oxford University Press, 2012

Joseph W. Doherty, Robert T. Reville, Laura Zakaras, editors

CEN_RAN_PUB-Confidentiality-Transparency

The lawsuit is the cornerstone of the civil justice system in America, and an open court the foundation of American jurisprudence. In a public setting, we resolve disputes, determine liability, and compensate injuries. In recent decades, however, more civil disputes have been resolved out of court and the outcomes have been kept secret. Fewer than 5 percent of the tens of millions of injury claims annually are actually resolved through a public trial with a jury, and the vast majority are settled out of court or through private forums, such as mediation or arbitration, with undisclosed terms. Some argue that the confidentiality of the system keeps it working efficiently and fairly; others argue that the public is being denied information about hazards that may cause harm and that a public system with no data lacks oversight.  This collection of essays by leading legal scholars is the first book to approach the issue in a multidisciplinary, nonpartisan, and empirical manner.

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