New York" to include the substantive principles of state law but not any special rules affecting the authority of arbitrators. If state courts did not get the message from previous decisions, surely they heard the Court this time. This decision says loud and clear that when state laws conflict or are interpreted or misinterpreted to conflict with the Arbitration Act, the Act prevails. Case closed.
Each jurisdiction, whether state or federal, has its own rules of civil procedure, criminal procedure, and evidence that determine the specific steps involved in a civil or criminal case. However, most states conform fairly closely to the federal rules, with which any journalist who covers legal matters should become quite familiar. The trial process for a civil matter is similar to that of a criminal case, whereas the pretrial procedures and evidentiary standards are rather different. For example, the typical civil case begins with the filing of a complaint; a criminal case can begin with an arrest, with the prosecutor's filing of an information or with a grand jury indictment. Both usually involve discovery, whereby the two sides disclose to one another the witnesses, documents, and other evidence expected to be used at trial. In many jurisdictions, the prosecution has an affirmative duty to disclose to the defense any evidence uncovered during the investigation or otherwise found that would aid the defendant at trial. There is obviously no such duty on either attorney in a civil case, although a motion to discover is sometimes used to compel the other side to disclose books, records, and other documents relevant to the case.
The three most common evidentiary standards are preponderance of the evidence and clear and convincing evidence in civil cases and beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases. For example, in a libel suit by a public figure against a media defendant, the plaintiff must show, by clear and convincing evidence, that the false information was published with actual malice. In any criminal case, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants committed the alleged crime before it can find them guilty.
Because both civil and criminal trials absorb considerable time and resources, including great strain on the courts, more judges and attorneys are using alternative ways of resolving disputes, popularly known as alternative dispute resolution (ADR). For criminal cases, the answer to the ever-growing backlog still remains plea bargaining, by which a defendant pleads guilty in return for the prosecutor's agreement to ask the judge to reduce the alleged crime to a lesser offense, that the judge be lenient in sentencing, and so on. For civil matters, there are some viable alternatives -- including minitrials, arbitration, mediation, summary jury trials, and other forms of dispute resolution -- that are much faster, considerably less expensive, and less burdensome on the participants and court systems. Not all ADR programs survive, as demonstrated by the demise of the University of Iowa Libel Dispute Resolution Program. However, as courts continue to push for better alternatives to litigation, it will become essential to most journalists to be well versed in ADR techniques. 151