State Legal Systems vs. ADR

Businesses face legal disputes at one time or the other. Most conflicts occur at the local level. As such, they are determined by state courts (Hall, 2004). Some of these judicial bodies include limited-jurisdiction, general jurisdiction, intermediate appellate, and Supreme courts. Parties to the dispute may prefer to resolve the matter by using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods.

Such strategies include mediation, reconciliation, arbitration, fact finding, mini-trial, negotiation, Summary Jury Trial (SJT), and Early Neutral Evaluation [ENE] (Grenig, 2005). In this white paper, the author will address a state level business dispute revolving around willful destruction of property worth US$2000. The memo describes how the dispute proceeds through the various legal phases in a state court system.

Resolving the Business Dispute through the State Legal System

Cases are assigned to the courts according to the gravity of the matter (Hall, 2004). Some of them, such as the intermediate appellate and the Supreme courts, handle appeals. Legal charges also vary between the courts. The high ranking courts are more expensive than their lower counterparts. Higher courts handle serious crimes that attract high fines, compensations, and sentences.

When handling the business dispute in question, it is important to note that the limited-jurisdiction trial courts rank lowest in the hierarchy. They include the Municipal and the Justice of the Peace Courts. The dispute in question will be heard and tried in the Justice of the Peace Court. The court of general jurisdiction comes second in the hierarchy of state judicial bodies. The Superior Court is the only agent of general jurisdiction (Hall, 2004).

It also hears appeals of cases that have been determined by the Municipal and the Justice of the Peace Courts. The business disagreement qualifies to be heard and tried in this judicial entity if one of the parties is not satisfied with the decision made by the limited-jurisdiction trial courts. The case involves property worth over US$1000, which is the required threshold. The dispute has also been previously tried in a lower court and warrants an appeal. However, the legal charges are high. The two parties continue to incur costs during the appeal (Ware, 2007).

The intermediate court of appeal is a rank higher than the general jurisdiction one (Hall, 2004). Most cases are brought before it when one of the parties is dissatisfied with a ruling made by the trial court and the court of general jurisdiction. The Supreme Court is at the top of the chain in the state legal system (Segal, Spaeth & Benesh, 2005). It serves as an appellate tribunal. Its legal charges are high. Many cases do not make it to trial. As such, ADR is used in the administration of justice.

Using Alternative Dispute Resolution to Resolve the Business Dispute

Available Alternatives

A number of ADR strategies can be used to resolve the current case. One of them is arbitration, which involves a neutral third party. Another alternative is the SJT, which is a mock trial. It is ordered by a court and the dispute is tried by a neutral jury. The ENE process starts immediately the dispute is filed in a court of law (Grenig, 2005). An evaluator appointed by a judge is required to educate the parties on various elements of the dispute.

The Most Appropriate Alternative

The use of SJT is the most appropriate for this case. The reason is that the decision arrived at is enforceable by the court. Both parties are committed to the process.

Conventional Litigation versus ADR

Most parties prefer to settle disputes through ADR given that it is cheap. For example, the parties involved in the state level business dispute will not incur hefty charges in legal representation (Ware, 2007). In addition, SJTs take a short duration of time. The parties do not have to hire lawyers for a long duration. It is also a fast means of dispute resolution and does not require individuals to attend many court sessions. The process is also less formal. Unlike in traditional litigations, cases are solved in a manner that satisfies all parties.


Grenig, J. (2005). Alternative dispute resolution (3rd ed.). St. Paul, Minnesota: Thomson/West.

Hall, T. (2004). The U.S. legal system. Pasadena, California: Salem Press.

Segal, J., Spaeth, H., & Benesh, S. (2005). The Supreme Court in the American legal system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ware, S. (2007). Principles of alternative dispute resolution (2nd ed.). St. Paul, Minnesota: Thomson/West.

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