NEW YORK, June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new nationwide poll finds deep distrust of the American legal system, with only 26% of voters saying that the system provides timely and reliable resolution of disputes. A mere 6% of the electorate believes that the system should be kept as it is, while an overwhelming 92% want change. A solid majority of voters–74%–identified a possible solution to a clogged, unreliable, legal system: they believe judges should have the discretion to throw out claims without legal merit before they are allowed to go forward.
The survey was conducted by Clarus Research Group for Common Good, a nonpartisan government reform coalition, June 21-25, 2012. Additional findings include:
- 86% of voters polled say they agree that there is an increasing tendency for Americans to threaten legal action and lawsuits when things go wrong.
- 67% say that the time and trouble it takes to file a lawsuit discourages many people with legitimate cases from going to court.
- 51% believe that people have become so fearful of frivolous lawsuits that they are discouraged from engaging in normal activities.
- When asked whether the civil justice system needs to change the way it handles lawsuits, 53% say there is a need for either fundamental change or the complete rebuilding of the system. Thirty-nine percent say there should be minor changes, and only 6% say they want to keep the system as it is.
“Voters do not believe that the legal system is reliable, and they want change,” said Philip K. Howard, Chair of Common Good. “Distrust of justice corrodes daily dealings throughout society. The resulting defensiveness contributes to many of America’s social problems, from unaffordable healthcare to inadequate education to a sluggish economy. Overhaul of justice should be a top issue in the presidential election.”
The poll was conducted June 21-25, 2012, by Clarus Research Group, a nonpartisan survey firm based in Washington, D.C. The sample included 1,000 self-identified registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. Interviews were conducted by live telephone calls, landline and cell.
Topline results with questions asked in order: Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with each of the following statements: Agree Disagree Don't know/no answer
There is an increasing tendency for Americans to 86% 11% 3% threaten legal action and lawsuits when things go wrong. Before lawsuits are allowed to go forward, judges should 74% 21% 5% have the discretion to throw out claims without legal merit The time and trouble it takes to file a lawsuit discourages 67% 26% 7% many people with legitimate cases from going to court. The legal system makes it too easy for dishonest people to 73% 22% 6% make invalid claims. People have become so fearful of frivolous lawsuits that 51% 45% 4% they are discouraged from engaging in normal activities. The legal system provides timely and reliable resolution of disputes. 26% 65% 9%
Which ONE of the following statements comes closest to expressing your overall view of our civil justice system and the way it handles lawsuits--we need to rebuild it completely ... we need to fundamentally change it ... we need to make minor changes in it ... or... we need to keep it as it is? 1. We need to rebuilt it completely 12% 2. We need fundamental changes 41% 3. We need minor changes 39% 4. We need to keep it as it is 6% 5. (VOLUNTEERED) Don't know/not sure/ depends/no answer 2%
Common Good (www.commongood.org) is a nonpartisan government reform coalition dedicated to restoring common sense to America. The Chair of Common Good is Philip K. Howard, a lawyer and author of Life Without Lawyers and The Death of Common Sense.
SOURCE Common Good
New Nationwide Poll: Most Voters Distrust U.S. Legal System
Only 6% Want to Keep It As It Is
June 26, 2012