DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar recently issued a report titled “The DRI National Poll on the Civil Justice System,” in which it found, on the basis of a random sample of 1,020 U.S. adults, that a significant percentage (41) of respondents indicated that they were not confident that the civil law system produces just and fair results. A vast majority of respondents (83 percent) indicated that “the side with the most money for lawyers usually wins.” About two-thirds said that they preferred juries over judges to decide disputes. Questions probing bias toward litigants revealed that 54 percent would favor an individual in litigation against a large corporation. Only 11 percent said that they would favor business, and 23 percent said they would be neutral. If the defendant were “a small business located in your community,” the preference for individual plaintiffs faded away, however, with 32 percent indicating they would favor the plaintiff.
According to DRI, the poll was “the first major research effort of DRI’s new Center for Law and Policy which, in addition to conducting objective research, will provide expertise to the courts and policymakers, and conduct public education on important civil justice issues.” Center Chair Marc Williams noted, “This data indicates that we have some public education work to do. No matter how much affinity one might have with one side or another, a basic premise of justice is that cases will be tried before an unbiased judge and jury who then make their decisions based upon the law and the facts presented.” Other matters addressed in the poll included the respondents’ involvement in class action suits. Four out of 10 Americans have apparently been invited to participate in a class action, and 15 percent of them did so. See DRI Press Release, September 19, 2012.