Launch of Tort Deform: The Civil Justice Defense Blog.
Welcome to the launch of Tort Deform: The Civil Justice Defense Blog. This blog is being launched in order to offer an alternative, and we believe, more accurate analysis of the state of our civil justice system than that presently provided by the majority of legal commentary blogs.
Over the last several decades, a relentless and more or less successful campaign has been waged by a collection of interests identifiable as the tort "reform" movement, aimed at closing the courthouse door to civil litigants as much as possible. This group strives to make it as difficult as possible for victims of corporate or other misconduct to sue and hold accountable in court those who harm them. Even more detrimentally, this same tort "reform" group has succeeded in shaping and leading important national narratives about the law and lawyers. Now, more than ever before in recent history, lawyers, lawsuits, and an overly litigious society are blamed for everything from the rising costs of health care to the state of the economy.
This blog is being launched to right this imbalance, and to affirmatively engage the tort "reform" movement's ideas in a popular medium that is accessible to lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
Question: Why are medical insurance premiums costs so high?
Question: Why can't I get a good doctor in my community?
Question: Why isn't the economy in my state improving?
Question: Why is American culture disintegrating?
Question: Why did my wife leave me?
Indeed, lawyers have become the most universally accepted blameworthy group. Although being a lawyer myself I can attest to the fact that there are a lot of very disagreeable people in my profession, I can say that there are not enough of them, and they are not disagreeable enough, to be blamed for all of society's ills.
What does this dynamic leave us with? In short what we have is one of the most ironic and unfortunate public policy parodies of our time. The very same large corporations that the American public is wary of in the wake of recent corporate scandals have somehow convinced us that the biggest threat to America and Americans are the lawyers who most often sue these corporations. The very same corporations which are most often brought to court for violations of our nation's laws, have convinced us that the lawyers who rightfully bring them there, often on behalf of thousands of mistreated Americans, are somehow 'bad.'
This identification of lawyers with all things bad did not just happen organically. Let us not forget that lawyers fighting for civil rights helped push through important changes in American society like Brown v. Board of Education. It is not as if lawyers were always seen as "bad" (unless of course you opposed national integration of our nation's schools), in that lawyers have fought for and secured some of our most treasured rights.
Instead, the message of lawyers as "bad" has been carefully nurtured through a consistent and powerful communications campaign funded by corporate interests. Moreover, in the ongoing battle of words and ideas between different sides of this "tort" debate, the tort "reform" movement has been far more accessible and successful in communicating its message. As William Haltom and Michael McCann describe in their recent book "Distorting the Law,"
"Legal professional and social scientists tended to publish their challenges to the tort reform movement in law reviews, professional journals, and other esoteric scholarly venues that few citizens or policy-makers read. By contrast, populist tort reformers, although often writing for targeted audiences, managed to find much more popular outlets for their narratives."
Thus, the success of the communications campaign of the "tort reform" movement is not just superior financial resources (resulting from corporate sponsorship), but the use of more appropriate communications tools. The intention of this blog is to tip the balance in the favor of proponents of a robust tort system, and to do so in a way that's accessible to lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
If we truly succeed, this blog will also be interesting to read. Part of this appeal will likely come from the blog's ability to inform Americans of their civil rights, as well as to advocate for the creation of mechanisms and procedures that allow more Americans to gain access to the courts. This educational element is an important goal separate and apart from a discussion about "tort reform."
More pointedly, as this blog's discussion progresses, I think that it will become increasingly clear that for Americans to be equal under the law and to fully realize our civil rights, we all must be entitled to something called "civil Gideon." Civil Gideon is the legal right to representation in important civil proceedings such as eviction proceedings in housing court. At the end of the day it is this deeper failing of our current civil justice system that is most in need of reform.
We can't say how excited we are to begin this conversation with you, as well as the rest of the nation. And we wholeheartedly invite you to participate in a dialogue with our four primary contributors, and our more than twenty guest contributors as we begin this conversation with America.