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Courts

2019

University of Michigan Law School

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Targeting Poverty In The Courts: Improving The Measurement Of Ability To Pay, Meghan M. O'Neil, Jj Prescott Mar 2019

Targeting Poverty In The Courts: Improving The Measurement Of Ability To Pay, Meghan M. O'Neil, Jj Prescott

Law & Economics Working Papers

Ability-to-pay determinations are essential when governments use money-based alternative sanctions, like fines, to enforce laws. One longstanding difficulty in the U.S. has been the extreme lack of guidance on how courts are to determine a litigant’s ability to pay. The result has been a seat-of-the-pants approach that is inefficient and inaccurate, and, as a consequence, very socially costly. Fortunately, online platform technology presents a promising avenue for reform. In particular, platform technology offers the potential to increase litigant access, reduce costs, and ensure consistent and fair treatment—all of which should lead to more accurate sanctions. We use interviews, surveys, and …