University of Denver

Regional Meetings Spark States to Act on Civil Justice Reforms

Senior Director

Over the past two years, IAALS has been collaborating with NCSC on a three-year project to support the modernization and transformation of civil litigation in our state courts. One of the key aspects of this Civil Justice Initiative (CJI) Implementation Plan, which focuses on implementing a set of 13 Recommendations for reform, is a series of regional strategic planning Summits for the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) to share information about the impact of civil justice reforms and effective implementation strategies. 

The purpose of the Summits is to encourage each state to learn about civil justice reform efforts nationwide, and to provide each state with an opportunity to develop an action plan for reform or other activities in their respective jurisdictions. In April, the Mid-Atlantic and New England regional states joined together in Boston, Massachusetts, and in May the Southern Region Summit was held in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Western Region Summit was held last May. The Summits consisted of a dynamic mixture of plenary sessions, workshops, and state team planning sessions. Teams of approximately six members attended from the regional states and left with a specific action plan for reform.

While each of the states have different issues and come to the Summits at a different point in their own reform efforts, there are still common themes. Courts are working to meet the challenges and needs of the high percentage of self-represented litigants in our court system. Technology is both a challenge and an opportunity for state courts. Courts are working to ensure cases are fairly and efficiently handled across the spectrum, including high volume debt collection cases and complex civil cases. There is great interest in right-sizing the process and implementing the pathway approach that is included in the Recommendations

The final Summit will be held in October for the Midwest Region.