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Montana Overwhelmed by Record Number of Cases; Looks to Innovate

Just Court ADR by Susan M. Yates,Jennifer Shack, Heather Scheiwe Kulp, and Jessica Glowinski.

Montana’s civil caseload topped 50,000 last year. That may not seem to be a lot to those in more populated states, but it’s enough to drive the state’s legislature to act. Citing an overwhelmed bench and litigants deprived of “prompt, careful consideration,” the legislature issued a joint resolution that the state evaluate the cost and effectiveness of current court processes and “identify measures that will help improve the administration of justice and promote the nonadversarial resolution of family law disputes.” It’s yet to be seen if the study will be undertaken, as studies requested by the legislature are prioritized at the end of the legislative session.

It’s great to see a state legislature looking to get data on court performance and trying to find evidence-based solutions to what appears to be a problem for the courts. They say necessity is the mother of invention. Here, it appears to be the mother of evaluation as well.

                        author

Jennifer Shack

Jennifer Shack is Director of Research at Resolution Systems Institute (RSI), a Chicago-based nonprofit working to improve access to justice through court alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Jennifer, who has been with RSI since 1999, is one of the foremost court ADR researchers in the field. She focuses on conducting complex… MORE >

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