American Judges Association


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Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 44:1/2. Copyright © 2007-2008 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission.


Americans are highly sensitive to the processes of procedural fairness. It is no surprise, then, that the perception of unfair or unequal treatment “is the single most important source of popular dissatisfaction with the American legal system.” Even first-graders react negatively to a situation where a mother punishes her child for a broken vase without consulting a witness first. This negative reaction signifies powerfully that children are already sensitive to the principles of procedural fairness. If children in early elementary school already react negatively to perceived violations of procedural fairness, it is only that much more imperative to address the needs of the adults who appear in the courts to fight for custody of their children, file bankruptcy, contest a speeding ticket, or respond to allegations of felonious criminal behavior.

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