We would like to thank the Syracuse University Department of Political Science for its generous research support. We would also like to thank Matt Guardino for his helpful suggestions. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities; we are grateful for the feedback we received there. We would also like to thank Nancy Reichman and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. Finally, we should note that we each contributed to this article equally.
Efficient, Fair, and Incomprehensible: How the State “Sells” Its Judiciary
Article first published online: 22 OCT 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Law & Policy © 2010 The University of Denver/Colorado Seminary
Law & Policy
Volume 33, Issue 1, pages 1–26, January 2011
How to Cite
BYBEE, K. J. and PINCOCK, H. (2011), Efficient, Fair, and Incomprehensible: How the State “Sells” Its Judiciary. Law & Policy, 33: 1–26. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9930.2010.00331.x
- Issue published online: 7 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 22 OCT 2010
Socio-legal scholars often approach dispute resolution from the perspective of the disputants, emphasizing how the resources on each side shape the course of conflict. We suggest a different, “supply-side,” perspective. Focusing on the state's efforts to establish centralized courts in place of local justice systems, we consider the strategies that a supplier of dispute resolving services uses to attract disputes for resolution. We argue that state actors often attempt to “sell” centralized courts to potential litigants by insisting that the state's services are more efficient and fair than local courts operating outside direct state control. Moreover, we argue that state actors also invest significant energy in claiming that the local courts are incomprehensible. Thus, in its efforts to introduce and advance centralized courts, the state argues not only that it offers the best version of what the citizenry wants, but also that it is impossible to conceive that people would want something other than what the state offers. We illustrate our argument and explain its significance by examining judicial reform in New York, where there has been a decades-long effort to displace local justice systems.