Civil Justice

THE FIELD OF STATE CIVIL COURTS

Anna E. Carpenter,* Alyx Mark,** Colleen F. Shanahan*** & Jessica K. Steinberg****

Introduction This symposium Issue of the Columbia Law Review marks a moment of convergence and opportunity for an emerging field of legal scholarship focused on America‚Äôs state civil trial courts. Historically, legal scholarship has treated state civil courts as, at best, a mere footnote in conversations about civil law and procedure, federalism, and judicial behavior. […]

RACIAL CAPITALISM IN THE CIVIL COURTS

Tonya L. Brito,* Kathryn A. Sabbeth,** Jessica K. Steinberg*** & Lauren Sudeall****

This Essay explores how civil courts function as sites of racial capitalism. The racial capitalism conceptual framework posits that capitalism requires racial inequality and relies on racialized systems of expropriation to produce capital. While often associated with traditional economic systems, racial capitalism applies equally to nonmarket settings, including civil courts.

The lens of racial capitalism enriches access to justice scholarship...

THE INSTITUTIONAL MISMATCH OF STATE CIVIL COURTS

Colleen F. Shanahan,* Jessica K. Steinberg,** Alyx Mark*** & Anna E. Carpenter****

State civil courts are central institutions in American democracy. Though designed for dispute resolution, these courts function as emergency rooms for social needs in the face of the failure of the legislative and executive branches to disrupt or mitigate inequality. We reconsider national case data to analyze the presence of social needs in state civil cases. We then use original data from courtroom observation and interviews to theorize how...

Local organizations that lie outside of the scope of legal aid nonetheless engage legal processes. Such organizations draw on courts, lawyers, and legal problems as a basis for mobilizing and power building in racially and economically marginalized communities. They work within such communities to provide support navigating courts, obtaining legal representation, contesting unfair legal practices, and much more. These activities position local...