The innovative efforts of New York appellate judge Douglas McKeon have earned the New York state court system one of 20 federal grants recently doled out by the Obama administration to reform the medical malpractice system. Justice McKeon, who calls his approach “judge-directed negotiations,” has taken anatomy classes to gain clinical knowledge, reads medical journals, and offers uncharacteristic care with families of patients. He adjudicates over all malpractice cases in New York City hospitals in the Bronx and Manhattan. In combination with hospital programs that emphasize early disclosure of medical errors, it’s estimated that Justice McKeon’s method has saved hospitals as much as $50 million a year. The medical-liability system is widely criticized for a range of problems. From injured patients who are never compensated to competent doctors who are caught in litigation for years, all parties involved in the litigation of medical malpractice have qualms. The practice of defensive medicine, when doctors order needless tests to protect themselves from litigation, saps billions every year from the Medicare and Medicaid system. Justice McKeon’s approach seeks to humanize the judicial process, which can lead to cheaper, faster settlement negotiations. The grant, totaling $3 million, was the only one given to a court system; the remainder of the $23 million was designated to universities, hospitals, and state health departments.