A new report from Pew describes how debt collection lawsuits have transformed state courts.
Among the report's findings:
- Fewer people are using the courts for civil cases.
- Debt claims grew to dominate state civil court dockets in recent decades.
- People sued for debts rarely have legal representation, but those who do tend to have better outcomes.
- Default judgments exact heavy tolls on consumers.
Pew makes three proposals:
- Track data about debt claims to better understand the extent to which these lawsuits affect parties and at which stages of civil proceedings courts can more appropriately support litigants.
- Review state policies, court rules, and common practices to identify procedures that can ensure that both sides have an opportunity to effectively present their cases.
- Modernize the relationship between courts and their users by providing relevant and timely procedural information to all parties and moving more processes online in ways that are accessible to users with or without attorneys.
The full report is here.