This paper examines the intersection of technical law and common sense reasoning in small claims arbitration, a distinctive and increasingly prevalent kind of legal work. Following (Garfinkel, Ethnomethodology's program: Working out Durkheim's aphorism, 2002), the study explores the "reform of technical reason" and what a "just outcome" means by focusing on the arbitration of actual small claims cases and how technical-legal and non-technical/informal resources are brought into alignment to produce dispute resolution. The arbitrator elicits discussions that establish consensual and commonplace formulations of "the case," formulations that foreshadow its disposition as technical matters of law. The research demonstrates how formal structures of equity, evenhandedness, and decisions without bias have their production in vivo, and how a just and fair course becomes a "just outcome."
Burns, Stacy. 2018. "Doing Justice and Demonstrating Fairness in Small Claims Arbitration" (previously published as lead article in Human Studies, Vol. 32: 109-131 2009), translated into Japanese and published in Tokai Law Review 55:112-163 (2018).