Suja A. Thomas

  • August 25, 2017
    BookTalk

    Book by Sandra F. Sperino and Suja A. Thomas

    Reviewed by Katie Eyer, Associate Professor, Rutgers Law School

    Employees who believe that they have experienced discrimination face long odds in bringing discrimination litigation against their employers. Less than 5% of discrimination plaintiffs ever achieve any form of litigated relief. Discrimination cases are dismissed at startlingly high rates across virtually every procedural juncture (including after a plaintiff-favorable jury verdict).  The rates of dismissal in discrimination cases are much higher than the rates of dismissal for virtually any other substantive category of federal claims. And yet debate remains regarding the causes of these low levels of success, with some contending that discrimination lawsuits are unfairly dismissed, while others argue that a glut of non-meritorious lawsuits is to blame.

  • May 5, 2017
    BookTalk
    The Missing American Jury
    By: 
    Suja A. Thomas

    by Suja A. Thomas, Professor of Law, University of Illinois

    Since Trump took office, several issues, including immigration, have highlighted the importance of checks and balances between the branches of the government and between the federal government and the states.

    My book The Missing American Jury argues that the jury was intended to serve as a similar check on the government, but its authority has shifted to other parts of the government, making the jury’s independent governmental role precarious.

    While statistics from the founding are rare, there’s no question that the jury decides far fewer cases now than in the past. Juries decide less than four percent of criminal cases and less one percent of civil cases filed in federal and state court. And in many states, grand juries do not decide whether serious cases should proceed against criminal defendants.

    So what has happened to the jury? Over 95 percent of criminal cases are plea bargained, with some set of these pleas actually later resulting in innocence findings. In civil cases, judges may dismiss cases on summary judgment. For example, in factually intensive employment discrimination cases (discussed in another recent book), judges often conclude that a reasonable jury could not find for the employee—dismissing claims in whole or in part at a rate of 70 percent or more in some districts. 

    These stark statistics do not even account for the cases that are decided outside of court—those determined through settlement, arbitration or administrative agencies. 

    Often inefficiency, cost, inaccuracy and incompetence are proffered for why the jury decides few cases—why we use procedures like plea bargaining, summary judgment and administrative determinations, instead of juries. My book freshly examines this issue of why the jury has fallen.

  • December 1, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Suja A. Thomas, Professor, University of Illinois College of Law 

    Today, the new proportionality amendment to the discovery rule goes into effect. Under this amendment, to obtain discovery, the requested material must be “proportional to the needs of the case.”

    Recently, I wrote an op-ed in Law360 entitled Via Duke, Companies Shaping Discovery, which is set forth below. This introduction to that op-ed about the new discovery rule explains what led to the op-ed and briefly discusses the response to the op-ed.

    The Law360 article publicizes the improper influence of privately-generated guidelines and practices (“private guidelines”) that purport to interpret the new proportionality rule. These private guidelines were created through a process led by a former leader and a former member of the Advisory Committee for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the body that makes the rules, and the Duke Law Center for Judicial Studies—which is partially funded by major corporations and defense lawyers. As described in the Law360 piece, the guidelines favor corporations.