Judicial Involvement in Settlement

Judicial involvement in settlement negotiations is as varied as the personalities and experiences of judges. Such involvement ranges from serious preparation for trial (with little or no discussion of settlement) to intense participation in case evaluation and allocation of payments among the parties. According to reports from participants at the asbestos conference, however, the type of judicial involvement appears to have only a marginal effect on the rate of settlement of asbestos cases. For example, one judge avoids settlement discussions and devotes his primary attention to prepa¬≠ration for trial. He has tried a large number of cases to verdict and has experimented with consolidation of cases. The judge reports that approximately four out of five cases on his trial docket settle on the eve of trial; however, this trial-to-settlement ratio appears to be only slightly higher than that of courts that actively promote settlement.”