University of Miami Law Review


The problems of cost and delay experienced by parties seeking civil justice have been the subject of complaints for nearly one hundred years, going back to the days of Roscoe Pound. In the past few years, court leadership across the country has emphasized judicial case management as a significant tool for delivery of cost-effective, fair, and timely civil justice. The declining civil caseload has brought new urgency to these problems as evidence grows that litigants are deserting the civil justice system. Calls for case management to contain cost and delay have come from the Chief Justice of the United States, the Conference of Chief Justices, state bar and Supreme Court commissions, and the American Bar Association. The continuing demand for case management in virtually every lawyer survey, state bar commission, task force, and civil justice report over recent years evidences that judicial case management is not occurring on a day-to-day basis in today’s civil courtrooms. Notwithstanding broad calls for judicial case management, most judges still don’t case manage—if they did, calls for case management would not be persistent and relentless.

If court leaders are going to rely on civil case management as a critical tool in improving civil justice, it is critical to understand how judges in everyday courtrooms view civil case management and how to best encourage its utilization. This thesis reports the results of an empirical investigation by survey into judicial attitudes among Florida circuit civil trial judges regarding utilization of case management in the handling of civil disputes in courts of general jurisdiction. The results of surveying Florida circuit judges demonstrate that the lack of widespread civil case management is less a deliberate choice due to resistance or philosophical objection than it is a product of the lack of a definition of what “civil case management” means and the scope of that task, a perceived lack of time and support, and a failure to incentivize its adoption through data sharing and performance measures. Through this research, I hope to provide one state’s perspective on this challenge to provide guidance to my state and others in implementing this cultural shift across civil justice.