“This is a public court…It belongs to the citizens. I believe in hearing everything in open court if I can.”
Federal District Judge L.T. Senter, Bossier v State Farm
Open court is not a place where Judge Senter presides. Instead, it is the envelope of the litigation process – the structural architecture holding together our system of justice for all.
Like the envelope of homes that stood against Katrina’s wind and water, not all damage to our system of justice is visible to the naked eye.
Neither was the damage to the Bossier’s home. Continuing with the analogy, tort reform and other system changes simply hide the cracks. What is needed is change that strengthens the structural architecture of the envelope, Open court – change that Judge Senter can make:
Modify the Mediation Order so that the period of mediation immediately follows the filing of a Complaint and Answer.
Improve the quality and oversight of the mediation process and require plaintiffs to attend a pre-mediation session conducted by the court that fully explains the process.
Require all motions for a protective order to fully comply with the Rules requiring specificity in the documentation of “good cause” and deny any that do not with prejudice.
Insist settlement conferences are documented with the technology used for video depositions and privately review the tapes before sealing.