Judicial System Report Offers No Radical Reform, Says Boyd

Article excerpt

Recommendations for changes in the judicial system, presented to Gov. George Nigh Thursday, would reduce some of the caseload of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, offer alternatives to dispute resolution and reapportion judicial personnel and the amount of legal work in some districts.

A final report of the Special Commission to Study the Judicial System recommends some large changes, but not radical reform, said John L. Boyd, chairman of the commission.

The 15-member commission was appointed by state government officials and the Oklahoma Bar Association and compiled the report over a 14 month period.

Boyd said the commission was formed out of the belief that the judicial system could function better, faster and less expensively with changes within several areas.

One of the main features in the study, he said, is the section addressing alternatives to dispute resolution. The commission studied the use of settlement conferences in connection with civil litigation, use of summary jury trials in civil cases, and mandatory mediation.

"The use of mediation would not only speed up the process, but litigants would have a better feeling concerning the outcome - they would be participants rather than spectators," Boyd said.

The report recommends using manditory settlement conferences and arbitration in civil cases where the amount in dispute is less than $25,000 and manditory mediation in domestic relations and small claims cases.

To alleviate some of the burden of the supreme court, the commission said all appeals from the trial court should go directly to the court of appeals, bypassing the supreme court. …