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Specialized business courts

Through most of the 20th Century the preferred model in American court organization was that of the generalist court in which a given corps of judges applied a standard set of procedures to handle a wide, not to say bewildering, variety of cases. In the past couple of decades, however, there has been renewed interest in the idea of establishing specialized courts to handle some types of recurring or distinctive cases: intellectual property, complex mass torts, low-level drug offenses, and so forth. "More than a dozen states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, have introduced specialization into their courts to deal with business disputes. Some programs are recent and some, like those in New York and Delaware, have been operating for decades." Removing complex commercial litigation to its own docket can assist in the development of greater judicial expertise, useful procedural innovation and more consistent law; it can also help unclog the schedules of courts that handle more conventional cases, according to its advocates. The success of specialized business courts is now encouraging other states to consider adopting the model, as is now the subject of discussion in Maine. (Andrew Grainger (New England Legal Foundation), "Business specialization in court system a good idea", Portland Press-Herald, Oct. 31)(& letter to the editor, Dec. 6).

[cross-posted from Overlawyered, where it ran Nov. 25, 2003]

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.