Report defends Philadelphia courts’ performance, neutrality

April 6, 2012

The Legal Intelligencer blog reported, “In the wake of criticism of the Philadelphia civil court system from defense-minded and conservative quarters, Keystone Progress, a Pennsylvania liberal advocacy group, said in a report today that the First Judicial District ‘has an appropriate number of cases relative to its size, but it handles them quickly and efficiently with no apparent favoritism towards plaintiffs.'” The report claims that, although reports, such as those from the American Tort Reform Association, “have attempted to frame Philadelphia courts as extreme, they are actually well within the bell curve for total civil caseload in respect to population when compared to other counties.”

Drawing on data from the National Center on State Courts and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and other sources, the report found that Philadelphia courts “dropped 40 percent in the median amounts awarded in tort trials between 2001 and 2005” and ranked “in the lower 30 percent of all major metropolitan areas in terms of damage amounts.”

The report, “Justice for Philadelphia Courts,” was issued written by the group’s David Ward and Michael Morrill. In an interview, co-author Morrill told the Intelligencer that the report was the first step in Keystone Progress’s new “Taking Back Our Courts” campaign, which he said is “not funded by Pennsylvania trial lawyers, though trial lawyers did co-sponsor a Keystone Progress event a few months ago.”