A Systems Approach to Access to Justice: Exploring Fundamental Causes, Common Themes and Solutions
157 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2010
Date Written: July 30, 2010
Conceptualizing access to justice as the product of an interconnected, dynamic and multidimensional system, this Article explores the roots of and links between access-to-justice deficiencies, the dynamic forces that entrench or disrupt these deficiencies and the promise, challenges and trade-offs inherent in proposed reforms. This Article seeks to develop a comprehensive conceptual framework to connect various branches of a sprawling access-to-justice literature and model central aspects of a tragic social problem. The first part of our model takes the perspective of persons seeking justice, exploring their diverging endowments and the choices, barriers and institutions they encounter during their pursuit of justice. The second part of the model focuses on the structure of the justice system, examining its current composition and the trade-offs implicated in structural reform through the lens of five jurisprudential tensions that provide a multidimensional normative underpinning for the system. The final part of the model studies system dynamics, exploring the social, political, economic and technological forces buffeting the extant system. The Article applies this tripartite framework to both existing access-to-justice realities and leading proposals for access-to-justice reform.
Keywords: Access to Justice, System, Indigent Defense, Civil Gideon, Enforcement, Law Reform, Civil Justice, Judicial Elections
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation