The Modern Problem-Solving Court Movement


The articles under consideration speak about the modifications of the work of federal and state courts. The publication of Marc Galanter claims the decline in trials, the shift in their makeup, and the increasing complexity of procedures. In turn, the piece of Mae C. Quinn is devoted to the problem-solving justice, the lack of evidence, supporting its effectiveness for all cases, and economic and financial challenges it poses. Therefore, both studies are important for understanding the way different tendencies of legal systems affect their productiveness.

The Vanishing Trial

In the article, written by Marc Galanter, the key ideas are related to the decline of trials in number and their change in nature. The scholar narrates about the tendency for selecting other methods of resolving issues, which started after World War II, and the respective evolution of the legal systems. According to him, the makeup is also modified, and the shift is determined by the prevalence of jury trials over bench trials, as well as contracts over torts. All these processes are claimed to correlate with enhanced consciousness of the population and their awareness of their rights and, as a result, greater autonomy.

In addition, Galanter states that the complexity of court proceedings increased, and they require investing more resources by all participants. The author sees this circumstance as another reason for the trend, described above, and longer trials with numerous verdicts are, therefore, those, remaining feasible. Other emerged specificities of these processes include greater involvement of judges and a disproportionate rise in civil filings. Criminal trials are also reported to be in decline, and the reason for it is in determinate sentencing, relying on the elaborated clear guidelines, and the preference of alternative forums for promptly resolving disputes.

The Modern Problem-Solving Court Movement

The article, written by Mae C. Quinn, narrates about reforms in criminal justice and their power in increasing the complexity of courts. The new focus on problem-solving approaches is claimed to make a lasting change, whereas in reality, its effect is controversial. In this area, the involvement of all participants also became more significant, while the stories of success, presented to the public, are only one side of the matter. In reality, the specified methods do not positively correlate with decline in recidivism, especially in the context of dubious economic feasibility. Moreover, the shift from solely drug addiction to a variety of societal issues and its efficiency are not supported by substantial evidence.

In turn, the so-called problem-solving courts are mainly established for receiving financial resources from the government rather than addressing challenges. They seem unethical when teamwork is prioritized instead of appropriate defense practices, and the long-term consequences of decisions remain unknown. Recent studies show that the effects of these institutions can be easily attributed to other unrelated factors. Historically, these approaches were also used in various cases, and their prevalence is explained more by a tradition instead of the perceived innovation. Even though they are reasonable for implementing in social work, careful consideration of all of their aspects is needed.


In conclusion, the articles of Marc Galanter and Mae C. Quinn confirm that the effectiveness of courts is conditional upon the presence of substantial evidence. In the former’s piece, the discussed changes in trials and, more specifically, their number and nature, are supported by the shift in people’s mindsets and their awareness of their rights. It means that they are critical for reflecting the evolving environment and its needs. As for the latter publication, it shed the light on the necessity to regularly assess the feasibility of problem-solving initiatives for complying with this provision.


Marc Galanter. “The Vanishing Trial: An Examination of Trials and Related Matters in Federal and State Courts”. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Volume 1, Issue 3, 459–570, November 2004.

Mae C. Quinn. “The Modern Problem-Solving Court Movement: Domination of Discourse and Untold Stories of Criminal Justice Reform”. Journal of Law & Policy, Vol. 31:57.

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1. LawBirdie. "The Modern Problem-Solving Court Movement." August 28, 2023.


LawBirdie. "The Modern Problem-Solving Court Movement." August 28, 2023.