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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77063 Find in a Library
Title: Appellate Overload - Prognosis, Diagnosis, and Analeptic
Journal: Appellate Court Administrative Review  Issue:3  Dated:(1980-1981)  Pages:35-40
Author(s): J D Hopkins
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 6
Type: Statistics
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses whether the performance of appellate courts is reaching a critical stage, whether new procedures can be provided to stem the tide, and whether the sources and kinds of appeals should be reexamined to determine further limitations on the right of appeal.
Abstract: In general, statistics show that there has been a massive upsurge in appeals between 1960 and 1979. In the Federal circuit courts of appeals, for example, the caseload during this period grew from 3,899 to 20,219, an increase of 418.6 percent. Intermediate appellate courts show equal or larger increases. However, an increase in the volume of appeals does not necessarily mean that the process of handling and deciding appeals is impaired. A court may be able to introduce into the process an innovation calculated to maintain the rate of disposition without destroying the integrity of the process. Virtually all courts have accepted the practice of reading briefs by the panel before argument. Techniques related to this practice which have been implemented recently included monitoring the preparation of the record and briefs, screening of appeals, use of summary orders, use of unpublished opinions, and establishment of procedures for the settling of appeals before the filing of the record. Obvious deficiencies arise as a result of any of these techniques. In addition, few studies have been conducted which focus on the optimal workload of an appellate judge. The evidence suggests that the workload of the judges in the appellate courts has gone beyond reasonable bounds. It is suggested that a study should be conducted to reevaluate what kinds of appeals the appellate courts should be required to decide. Several courts should be used for empirical study, including a State court of last resort, an intermediate appellate court, and a Federal circuit court of appeals. The study should focus on the amount of time devoted to each appeal considered within a given period and whether there are certain kinds of appeals which could be eliminated without injury to the judicial system. Until such a study is conducted, other measures could be considered. These possible changes include review of appeals only by leave, exclusion from appellate review challenges to administrative agency decisions based on factual determination, and use of an accelerated procedure for routing appeals based on the correctness of rulings. The article includes 41 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Appellate courts; Caseloads; Court case flow management; Court delays; Court reform; Court statistics; Statistical analysis
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