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04 December 2008

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Tracy Lightcap

Well, it is just about high time for that!

I like the design, although I would think that a survey of households might not be enough. Many of the questions involving civil justice policy concern businesses and professional offices. A survey that would tell us enough might have to include them too. A design using disproportionate sampling to catch a larger share of the high end of income earners might take care of that.

There's also what I call the "civil plea bargain problem". My wife is a management labor attorney. When she can whittle down the grounds for complaint and the size of suing classes so that the actual liability of her clients is reduced considerably, she often settles. This is referred to in our household as a "win", in much the same way that pleading down a 1st degree murder charge to manslaughter is for a criminal defense lawyer. Yet this would show up as a win for the plaintiffs in the dockets. How would this aspect of the system - every bit as important as on the criminal side, but much less talked up - be caught by a NCJS?

Well, there isn't much possibility of such a major new statistical effort (the results of which would NOT be welcomed by many interested parties) in the present fiscal climate. Still, it's good to see the idea being vetted. No question it would help at all levels.

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