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General Litigation Newsletters

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to an informal process for deciding civil disputes outside of the courtroom. The two main forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration. Any type of civil dispute, including product liability actions, contract suits, and probate cases, can be mediated or arbitrated.

Judgments by Confession and Judgments by Warrant of Attorney

A confession of judgment means the entry of a judgment on the confession (admission) of the defendant, usually a debtor. The defendant admits his or her liability for the debt. Judgments by confession are void as against public policy in some states, while other states permit judgments by confession. A warrant of attorney is a written document that gives an attorney the power to confess judgment against the defendant on a debt.

Meaningful Access to the Courts for Self-Represented Litigants

The number of persons who represent themselves in court proceedings has increased significantly in recent years. The increase in self-representation is placing a strain on the court system. Individuals have a constitutional right to represent themselves, and the courts have a duty to make certain that all individuals have meaningful access to the courts. Family law matters, such as uncontested divorces or dissolutions and child support modifications, are common areas where individuals choose to represent themselves.

Reviewability of Federal Administrative Agency Decisions

Federal administrative agencies make adjudicatory decisions in regulatory cases. Agency cases include Social Security benefit claims, Federal Communication Commission licensing matters, and Food and Drug Administration proceedings to enforce provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. If the person or company affected by the decision is dissatisfied with the agency’s ruling, the decision can be appealed to a court. This article discusses the requirements that must be met before an agency’s decision can be appealed to the court.

The Office of the Independent Counsel

Following the Watergate scandal, Congress passed the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (Ethics Act). The law created a Special Prosecutor (the name was later changed to Independent Counsel) to investigate possible crimes by high government officials. The Independent Counsel provision of the Ethics Act expired, and new Independent Counsel legislation that was passed in 1994 expired in 1999 and was not renewed. The Attorney General of the United States now has sole discretion to appoint an outside prosecutor.