Judicial Opinions from U.S. Court of Appeals on Issues Affecting Access to the Civil Justice System
This summer, I will continue to work on this research project which studies issues affecting access to the civil justice system by reading judicial opinions from U.S. Court of Appeals. These issues include class certification, damages, standing, sufficiency of pleadings and attorney’s fees. Judges from federal appellate courts have great discretion in deciding these issues and setting precedents for lower courts to follow. Their decisions on certain issues — including what groups of individuals can bring on lawsuits as a class, how much punitive damage can be granted to a certain case, and how specific a plaintiff’s allegations must be to pass pleadings stage — can greatly encourage or discourage people to bring forth legal complaints. By reading opinions and applying a coding protocol that specifies the presiding judges, nature of the legal issues presented, characteristics of the parties, and case outcomes, we hope to gather data that can give us insights on how people’s access to the civil justice system have been affected by federal appellate court judges.