Shadow Justice: The Ideology and Institutionalization of Alternatives to Court

Shadow Justice: The Ideology and Institutionalization of Alternatives to Court

Shadow Justice: The Ideology and Institutionalization of Alternatives to Court

Shadow Justice: The Ideology and Institutionalization of Alternatives to Court

Synopsis

This first critical examination of informal dispute processing links the institutionalization of alternatives to the court process and the ideology of informalism with the evolution of the American court system. The author connects dispute processing reform to the broader social and political context in which it developed, including the rise of judicial management in the Progressive period and the reconstruction of court unification in the 1970s. Harrington defines legal resources and their distribution in alternative dispute resolution policy before focusing on the institutionalization of this reform in a case study of a federally sponsored Neighborhood Justice Center. In conclusion, Harrington finds that the symbols of informalism and its institutions are a mere shadow of conventional legal practices.

Excerpt

Since the 1970s we have been witnessing a reform campaign directed at the administration of justice. Known as delegalization, the reforms emphasize the need to shift our resources and approach away from formal, adversary proceedings and toward informalism and mediation. As a result of reforms that have come about over the last decade there are now "alternative dispute resolution" programs throughout the United States at the local, state, and federal levels. the types of disputes that have come under this delegalization movement range from individuals' interpersonal disputes to conflicts between nations. the scope of this reform is broad and the organization of the movement is fragmented. Both characteristics, some believe, make it difficult to talk about alternative dispute resolution as a movement or field. This book, however, focuses on an area of alternative dispute resolution that reflects the dominant ideology and institutionalization of informalism--the neighborhood justice center.

The social conflicts brought to the neighborhood justice center are the minor criminal and civil complaints told to police, prosecutors, and lower court judges. the conflicts that surface, or become visible, as minor disputes are so pervasive in everyday life that they may seem invisible. Yet, the tasks as-

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