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.
An ex parte communication is a written or oral communication with a judge that involves only one side of a pending lawsuit or that involves a matter that could become the subject of a future case before the judge. Ex parte communications include a judge’s interactions with persons interested in the outcome of a case such as attorneys, parties, jurors, witnesses, and law enforcement personnel. Generally, ex parte communications are prohibited because they can influence the judge’s decision.
Most state appellate courts experience gridlock in processing appeals. The courts are having difficulty keeping pace with the increasing volume of appealed cases. As a result, there are significant delays in finalizing an appeal. In some cases, it can take more than two years between entry of the final judgment in the trial court and a final decision in the appellate court. The courts have been pursuing efficiency promoting methods. This article discusses procedures that are being adopted by state appellate courts to reduce the backlog of cases and speed up the appeal process.
A guardian is a person appointed by the court to act on behalf of a person who is considered legally incompetent. A person is presumed to be competent. However, someone can file a petition for guardianship with the court detailing why the person needs a guardian. If the court finds that the person is incapable of making health, personal, or financial decisions due to illness or disability, the court will appoint a guardian. The incompetent person is called a ward.
Many people cannot afford to hire an attorney to help them with their legal problems. State and federal programs, such as Legal Aid and Legal Services, provide pro bono or free legal services. Bar associations, law schools, and non-profit groups also provide free or low-cost legal assistance to those who could not otherwise afford an attorney because they have limited financial means.