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The Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice

The Causes Of Popular Dissatisfaction With The Administration Of Justice

Roscoe Pound, 1906

ROSCOE POUND presented "The Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice" at the annual convention of the American Bar Association in 1906. The lecture was a call to improve court administration and a preview of his theory of law. It has remained a classic statement on the need for efficient and equitable judicial administration.

Pound acknowledged that some people have always been dissatisfied with the law, but he contended that the courts did indeed need to be administered more effectively. He also noted that the adversary system often turned litigation into a game, irritating parties, jurors, and witnesses and giving the public the "false notion of the purpose and end of law." In addition, he attacked the overlapping jurisdiction of courts and argued that each state had too many courts.

In 1909 Pound organized the First National Conference on Criminal Law and Criminology, which gathered participants from many professions to discuss ways to reform the criminal law. The conference was one of the first of Pound's efforts to give practical application to sociological jurisprudence. Later, in 1929 President HERBERT HOOVER appointed Pound to the Wickersham Commission, the popular name for the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement. This commission conducted the first comprehensive national study of crime and law enforcement in U.S. history. The findings of the commission, which were published in fourteen volumes in 1931 and 1932, covered every aspect of the criminal justice system, including the causes of crime, police and prosecutorial procedures, and the importance of probation and parole.

Pound's lecture is a treasure trove of ideas concerning the management of courts. The area of court administration has grown since the 1960s, and court administrators now play an active role in monitoring and managing case-loads. Many states have also heeded Pound's advice and unified their trial courts, thereby eliminating several layers of courts.

Source: Reprinted from 29 A.B.A. Rep., pt. I, 395–417, 1906.

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