There is no system in this country that needs overhauled more than the legal system. The unending lawsuits have driven up the cost of virtually everything, from medical costs to business costs to the cost of running the government. The United States is one of the few industrialized countries which does not require the loser to pay the legal costs of the winner. This results in endless frivolous lawsuits. No one should be allowed to sue for damages resulting from their own stupidity!
The argument the legal community uses against the loser pays systems is that many people could not afford to bring lawsuits. The opposite is the case. When attorneys know that they will be paid by the losing party they will be willing to bring legitimate cases to court. On the other hand, they will not want to bring frivolous suits because they will not get paid.
I recommend that a new system be established for civil cases. It would consist of a panel of six moderators selected using the current jury system. They would be directed by the Magistrate. This panel would hear civil cases and would have the power to hire their own experts. For example, if the case involved construction, the panel could hire a contractor to review the claims and report back to the “court”. If the case involved medical malpractice the panel could hire a doctor that specialized in that area of medicine. An accountant could be hired to compute damages if necessary.
Their decisions would be based on what was fair, not on precedents that may or may not have bearing on this particular case. They would have the ability to require the defendant to “fix” the problem if that was feasible. For example, in a medical malpractice case they could require the doctor to correct the problem or pay to have it corrected. The panel would be paid a reasonable fee for their services, for example, $50.00 for a half day or $100.00 for a full day. They would have the authority to determine which party will have to pay the legal fees. Retired persons with specialized knowledge could volunteer to serve (and still be paid) on cases which involve their expertise. For example, a contractor could serve on cases involving construction.
Punitive damages would be limited to three times the economic damages.
Another proposal put forth by Russell Sobel, Professor at WVU, is to have non-partisan elections of Judges or to have them appointed by the governor. Oftentimes, unions and other political groups have pressured judges to decide in favor of special interest groups, regardless of what the law requires, or they will see that the judges do not get re-elected.
Finally, the legal system must help persons who are awarded judgments to collect those judgments. This would include open access to bank accounts and income tax returns.