On December 3, 2018, the National Center for State Courts issued a survey on 2018 State of the State Courts. The annual national survey conducted the study on 1,000 registered voters November 13-17, 2018.
The survey shows that there is some interest in alternative methods to dispute resolution. Voters with previous experience dealing with the courts are slightly more likely to try alternatives presented to them than those that came to court for the first time. They would like alternatives to hiring a lawyer for full representation, but their lack of confidence in their alternatives.
When presented with different options to try to solve their disputes, the pool showed a slight preference for online dispute resolution (64%), over having an attorney representing only a portion of a case (62%), utilizing self-help websites and web-based resources (59%), licensed professionals for legal form preparation (57%), court staff helping with forms (56%), or phone/online access to an attorney (52%).
It is the online dispute resolution option the one that receives the most interest across groups.
“Online dispute resolution is seen as a cost-effective way to resolve smaller cases.” Traffic tickets, consumer debt, and small claims are the type of cases that receive the higher consideration for online dispute resolution. Housing disputes and receiving a verdict of settlement are of less interest. No group finds that online dispute resolution would be appropriate for dealing with family matters. Voters who are younger and with a higher education or incomes are more likely to opt for an online resource over the courthouse.
If voters are seeking to access an attorney, they prefer in-person over an online or phone-only option.
Voters lack confidence in their ability to represent themselves and feel they need feel attorneys’ help to navigate the court system.
Overall, the survey shows that State Courts remain a trusted institution across party lines. Voter confidence in the state court system is higher compared with 2012. 76% of voters have a great deal or some confidence, while less than 22% say they have not much or no confidence at all in the state court system.
Challenges remain on political bias, racial bias, inefficiency, and lack of innovation.
2018 State for State Courts Survey is available at https://www.ncsc.org…