This chapter discusses the theme of this book, which is about trials in the United States. It cites statistics showing that the percentage of federal civil cases that ended in trial declined from 11.5 percent in 1962 to 1.8 percent in 2002. The book argues that the trial, though in statistical decline, has a comprehensiveness among our modes of social ordering that makes it unique. It also analyzes the causal mechanisms that together explain the recent catastrophic decline in the number of cases tried and discusses the significance or meaning of this decline.
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