University of Denver

James Maxeiner Urges America to Look Abroad for Answers to Justice System Issues

Senior Director

In What America Can Learn From Germany’s Justice System, James Maxeiner urges us to compare America’s civil justice system to its German counterpart for examples of how the civil justice system can be improved. Maxeiner highlights five ways in which the German system works better, including parties telling the judges about their claims at the outset, judges living with the cases from the start, judges and parties cooperating to frame the issues, judges taking evidence only on disputed issues of material fact, and judges explaining their decisions. Through this system, “an engaged and empowered judiciary ensures a speedy, reasoned, and equitable resolution.” These “virtues of the German civil justice” provide clear examples of ways to improve America’s system. These examples mirror many of the proposed Principles in the Final Report on the Joint Project of The American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL)Task Force on Discovery and IAALS, including notice pleading, a single involved judicial officer, early pretrial conferences, more limited and focused discovery, and early and often conferencing between the parties.