University of Denver

A Return to Trials

Implementing Effective Short, Summary, and Expedited Civil Action Programs

There is a widespread perception that the civil justice system is too complex, costs too much, and takes too long. To address these concerns, several federal and state jurisdictions around the country have implemented an alternative process designed to provide litigants with a speedier and less expensive process, including both a simplified pretrial process and a shortened trial on an expedited basis.

In collaboration with the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), IAALS convened a committee of experts from around the country to discuss these short, summary, and expedited civil actions. Jumping off of the NCSC’s publication regarding a number of these programs, Short, Summary and Expedited: The Evolution of Civil Jury Trials, the committee brainstormed best practices for designing, implementing, conducting, and measuring effective programs.

A Return to Trials: Implementing Efficient Short, Summary, and Expedited Civil Action Programs collects these recommendations for jurisdictions around the country that are considering implementing such programs, as well as those seeking to improve their current programs. The recommendations "are meant to serve as a flexible roadmap for reform, with the details of each program to be determined at the local level. Just as importantly, we hope this manual also serves as a call for implementation of such programs on a national scale."