■ The true scope and meaning of a particular statute is never known with precision until it is formally construed by the Courts in settling actual disputes arising under it. ■ Many statutes don’t lend themselves to the plain meaning rule, so ■ Why interpret? 1) Legislatures draft statutes with an element of “deliberate impression” which intentionally gives courts a degree of latitude in applying the statute. 2) Even if a legislature tries to define all of the key elements of a statute with great precision, the effort sometimes fails because some concepts are extremely difficult to define without reference to a specific set of facts 3) The complex process of amendment and deletion as a bill goes through the legislature sometimes leads to a product that is less clear than the originally introduced bill. 4) Compromise sometimes leads to lack of clarity. ■ Ways to interpret: 1) The Court will examine the law’s textual 2) A Court might examine the statute’s legislative history. 3) Statute’s circumstantial context may be taken into account by a court seeking to discern the meaning of legislative language. 4) A court will consider precedent when interpreting a statute. 7) Alternative Dispute Resolution: ADR refers to methods of settling disputes outside of a courtroom. Some types are binding or legally final. Other processes allow parties to go to court later if they wish. The next section of the book introduces some of the most common ADR techniques. 1. Negotiated settlement In many cases, a dispute ends without a trial because the parties communicate and agree to a settlement. For example, a defendant might agree to pay $25,000 if the plaintiff agrees to drop all claims. - Most disputes never get to the courtroom - Approximately 95% of cases are resolved without a trial 2. Arbitration With this method of ADR, the two parties sign a contract that gives one or more arbitrator the power to resolve a dispute. They then present evidence to the arbitrator, who makes a decision. For example, Al and Bob might have a car accident and sign an arbitration agreement which names Judge Judy as the arbitrator. If Judge Judy awards Bob $5,000, then Al has a real legal obligation to pay that amount to Bob. The arbitration agreement can be signed after a dispute arises or before there is any problem to begin with. If you read the fine print, you have probably agreed to arbitrate any future disputes with your cell phone service provider, credit card issuer, and perhaps your employer. On the positive side, arbitration tends to be much faster and significantly less
expensive than a trial. On the negative side, there are no appellate arbitrators. These decisions tend to be final. It is possible to appeal an arbitrator's decisions to appellate courts, but it is not easy. Oxford Health Care Plans v. Sutter details the Supreme Court's current stand on the issue.
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- Spring '08
- Law, Trial court