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Negotiating Consent Decrees that Work

By Jane Perkins

Systemic poverty law cases are often settled through negotiations that lead to consent decrees that lead to orders enforceable by the court. In recent years government defendants have resisted or have sought modification or termination of consent decrees, particularly in Medicaid cases, and state legislatures have acted to discourage this form of case settlement. For these reasons, advocates should file cases only when the facts and claims are strong, the willingness to litigate is apparent, and the desired relief clearly understood; advocates should negotiate consent decrees carefully.

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