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Delaware’s Chancery Court Arbitration Procedure Ruled Unconstitutional

by Jennifer Shack
September 2012

Just Court ADR by Susan M. Yates,Jennifer Shack, Heather Scheiwe Kulp, and Jessica Glowinski.

Jennifer Shack

Delaware’s Chancery Court judges for operating a private arbitration system. Empowered by legislation passed in 2009, the judges were acting as arbitrators in business disputes, which, the Coalition argued, effectively made court proceedings confidential. According to the Coalition, this violated the presumptive right to access to judicial proceedings and documents, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

 

Judge Mary McLaughlin from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania agrees. In a 26-page opinion, she rules that the arbitrations are sufficiently like a trial to be covered by the right to access presumption in the First Amendment. In coming to this conclusion, she argues that unlike arbitrators, who are private actors selected by the parties, judges are appointed to public service and therefore must act in the public interest.

For more analysis of the opinion, see Delaware Litigation and Steven Davidoff’s post in The New York Times.

 

Biography


Jennifer Shack joined Resolution Systems Institute (RSI) in 1999 and became Director of Research a year later. In this role, she heads up the Monitoring and Evaluation program at RSI, and is the creator of the Court Mediation Effectiveness Tracking System, in use in circuits around Illinois. She also conducts evaluations of mediation programs in state and federal courts in Illinois. 

In another aspect of her position, Ms. Shack is responsible for the growth and evolution of the Court ADR Resource Center, which contains thousands of resources pertaining to the use of ADR in the courts. Most significantly, she led transition of the Resource Center to a new, sophisticated web site, CourtADR.org



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Website: aboutrsi.org/staff.php?ID=9

Additional articles by Jennifer Shack

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