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2013/2014 Preface

Since 2002 the American Tort Reform Association’s (ATRA) Judicial Hellholes® program has built on the American Tort Reform Foundation’s (ATRF) annual report of the same name, documenting developments in places where judges in civil cases systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants . More recently the lawsuit industry has begun aggressively lobbying for legislative and regulatory expansions of liability, as well, so Judicial Hellholes reporting has evolved to include such law- and rule-making activity, much of which can affect the fairness of a state’s lawsuit climate as readily as judicial actions .

Though entire states are occasionally cited as Hellholes, specific counties or courts in a given state more typically warrant such citations . And importantly, jurisdictions singled out by Judicial Hellholes reporting are not the only Judicial Hellholes in the United States; they are simply among the worst .

Judicial Hellholes reports compile the most significant court rulings and legislative actions over the course of the year as documented in real-time online . The report also reflects feedback gathered from ATRA members and other firsthand sources . Because the program has become widely known, ATRA also continually receives tips and additional information, which ATRF then researches independently through publicly available court documents, judicial branch statistics, press accounts, and various studies .

The Judicial Hellholes program considers only civil litigation; it does not reflect in any way on the criminal justice system .