Court Cuts Spur ‘Private Trials’

Here’s the latest for your “as much justice as you can afford” file: The Tulsa (OK) World reports on a trend for private trails to deal with divorce cases. The report, noting that “more than 400 divorce cases are filed each month in Tulsa County” says some dockets delay an outcome “for months,” which might not sound bad in places where divorces can take years. But one option is to opt for a private trial.

The World explains that “… both parties must agree to a private trial. If judges feel that request is appropriate, they will appoint a referee to run the private trial. Unlike the guided negotiation that occurs during a mediation, appointed referees hear evidence and make findings of fact and conclusions of law that the judges who appointed them adopt as their verdict. Both parties have the same right to appeal that they would if a district court tried the case.”

Benefits include a speedy trial and increased privacy because only the outcome, not the specifics, are public record. Others note that, given the legal costs of longer divorces, hiring the judge, jury and paying for court recorders can still be cheaper than the regular justice system. Read the story here.