Saturday, November 3, 2007

UCLA and RAND Form Research Alliance; Host Conference on Civil Justice Secrecy

UCLA Law School and the RAND Corporation have formed an alliance to study law and public policy -- see the RAND press release.  Their first endeavor was a conference on November 2, 2007, studying the use of secrecy in the civil justice system.  Here's an excerpt from the L.A. Times article -- UCLA Law School joins others to pry into judicial secrecy, by Henry Weinstein:

UCLA Law School and the Rand Corp. launched an alliance Friday to study secrecy in the nation's civil justice system.

Attorneys and legal scholars spent the day at a conference at the law school debating just how much secrecy there is and whether any of it is justified.

"This subject could not be more timely," said UCLA Law School Dean Michael Schill. "Transparency in our civil justice system is incredibly important for its legitimacy." At the same time, he said, privacy trumps transparency on some occasions.

Michael Rich, Rand's executive vice president, expressed dismay that in recent years the civil justice system has seemed to be moving away from public scrutiny, with fewer trials being held, more private judges operating outside the normal court system and a proliferation of cases settled with confidentiality agreements.

Among the controversial issues discussed were the role of secrecy in settlement agreements and the increasing prevalence of arbitration agreements.  More information on the conference and speakers can be found at the RAND conference description, which notes that "[t]he papers presented at the Transparency in the Civil Justice System will be collected in a book that will be released at an event on Capitol Hill in Summer 2008."


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