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I am very happy to be here because I have been very interested throughout my career in state courts and how they operate. While most of my colleagues at Yale Law School, and in legal academia generally, spend most of their time reading U. S. Supreme Court opinions or, in the case of Yale Law School, the opinions of one or two Justices, that is a much too narrow approach. The U. S. Supreme Court is surely important, but I think it is equally important to try to understand how state courts, and especially state trial courts, operate. So, I have studied state trial courts for most of my career.
I was involved with the Rand Corporation when it first began its civil justice work back in the early 1980s. Rand had raised money to study the civil justice system and asked me for ideas as to how to best use it. I was teaching at UCLA at the time, and went to lunch with them. I said the best thing that you can do is start gathering statistics on state trial courts because nobody in legal academia knows a thing about how the state trial court system operates. There was a book published by Charles Clark, who was then the Dean of Yale Law School, that looked at state trial courts in Connecticut. This was one of the only studies and Clark found the statistics so complicated, that he could come to very few conclusions. The book contains tables and tables of statistics, and concludes that this is a very difficult subject and somebody will have to do more work on it. That book was published back in 1937, and was the last anybody heard of that approach. So, I convinced the Rand Corporation to code up the data on the Cook County/Chicago and San Francisco trial courts.
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