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Southwestern University Law Review

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One of the most beneficial aftershocks of the Proposition 13 earthquake, which shook the fiscal foundations of state and local government in California, is a growing willingness to examine the structure of government from top to bottom to see if it is providing services efficiently and competently. The kind of searching reexamination of government operations called for in the aftermath of Proposition 13 must include a new look at an old idea in judicial administration-trial court unification. The purpose of this article is to take that look and to argue that a unified trial court system can best meet the challenge of providing judicial services in California in the post Proposition 13 era. This article is divided into five parts. The first provides a summary and necessarily selective overview of the structure of California's trial court system. The second part defines unification in the context of the current California trial court system. Third, the history of court unification, nationally and in California, is summarized, in the hope of reflecting the adage that a page of history is worth a thousand pages of logic. Next, this article summarizes and analyzes the principal arguments for and against unification and concludes that unification is the optimum administrative structure for the trial courts. Finally, this article identifies some unanswered questions about unification and analyzes currently pending unification legislation.

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