HOW ACCOUNTABLE IS THE CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM?
Measures designed to protect legal consumers against unethical lawyersare they working?
According to the American Bar Association, in 2002, 121,000 complaints were filed against the nation's 1.2 million lawyers.1
Of these 121,000 complaints, only 3.5 percent led to formal discipline and just one percent resulted in disbarment.2
Of these 121,000 complaints, 96.5 percent led to no discipline or only informal slaps on the wrist in the form of "private sanctions."3
How does lawyer self-regulation contribute to consumer mistrust in the civil justice system?
According to a HALT study, in 50 states (including the District of Columbia), lawyers make up at least two-thirds of the committee adjudicating attorney discipline complaints.4
According to that same study, in 12 states lawyers make up 100% of discipline hearing panels.5
A Columbia Law School nationwide survey found that two out of three Americans do not think lawyers are even "somewhat honest."6
A 2003 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 84% percent of Americans do not believe lawyers have "high ethical standards."7
According to theNational Law Journal, 69% of Americans think that lawyers are more focused on making money than serving their clients.8
How does the appearance of judicial impropriety contribute to consumer distrust of the civil justice system?
According to a study conducted by Justice at Stake, when asked "How would you rate the job being done by judges in your state," more than one-third (37%) of people surveyed answered "fair" or "poor."9
That same study found that, when asked how well the word "independent" described judges, more than one-third (35%) of people surveyed answered "not too well" or "not well at all."10
That same study found that, when asked how well the word "impartial" described judges, more than one-third (34%) of people surveyed answered "not too well" or "not well at all."11
1American Bar Association, Survey on Lawyer Discipline Systems (2002).
2American Bar Association, Survey on Lawyer Discipline Systems (2002).
3American Bar Association, Survey on Lawyer Discipline Systems (2002).
4HALT, Lawyer Discipline Report Card (2002).
5HALT, Lawyer Discipline Report Card (2002).
6Columbia Law School, Lawyers and the Legal Profession ( 2002).
7CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll (2003).
8National Law Journal, "Polishing the Image," Sept. 16, 2002.
9Justice at Stake Campaign, Justice at Stake Frequency Questionnaire (2001).
10Justice at Stake Campaign, Justice at Stake Frequency Questionnaire (2001).
11Justice at Stake Campaign, Justice at Stake Frequency Questionnaire (2001). ....
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