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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 50064 Find in a Library
Title: GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS - THE MONOTONY OF APPELLATE COURT DECISIONMAKING
Journal: JUDICATURE  Volume:62  Issue:2  Dated:(AUGUST 1968)  Pages:58-65
Author(s): J T WOLD
Corporate Author: American Judicature Soc
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: American Judicature Soc
Chicago, IL 60601-7401
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE ROUTINE NATURE OF MUCH OF THE WORK IN APPELLATE COURTS AND THE PREDICTABILITY OF OUTCOMES IN MANY CASES ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: INTERVIEWS WERE CONDUCTED IN 1977 WITH 51 JURISTS SERVING IN THE CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL. IN ADDITION, CONVERSATIONS WERE HELD WITH 34 JUDGES WHO DISCUSSED THEIR JOBS. THE GOAL WAS TO DETERMINE WHAT JUDGES CONSIDERED TO BE THE MISSION OF THEIR COURTS AND THE METHODS THEY ADOPTED TO COPE WITH DEMANDS IMPOSED BY THEIR SITUATIONS. ALL JUDGES INTERVIEWED INDICATED THAT THE RIGHT OF INDIGENTS TO A FREE APPEAL IN CRIMINAL CASES RESULTED IN A CASELOAD CONSISTING PRIMARILY OF ROUTINE NONMERITORIOUS APPEALS. AS A RESULT, JURISTS CLAIMED THAT THEY HAD FEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR LEGAL INNOVATION OR CREATIVITY IN DECISIONMAKING. THEY PERCEIVED THEIR ROLE AS PRIMARILY ONE OF PROCESSING A LARGELY REPETITIOUS CASELOAD. JUDGES FELT THAT THEIR BASIC MISSION WAS TO REVIEW RECORDS OF TRIAL COURTS FOR CORRECTNESS AND APPLY THE LAW AS ENUNCIATED BY THE STATE SUPREME COURT. MOST JUDGES SAID THAT THE NUMBER OF ROUTINE APPEALS, THOUGH NOT OVERLOADING THE COURTS, HAD AT LEAST COMPELLED THEM TO ADOPT METHODS ENABLING THE DISPOSAL OF THEIR WORKLOAD IN AN EXPEDITIOUS MANNER. THE MOST COMMON PRACTICE WAS THE ROUTINE DISPOSITION METHOD FOR PROCESSING SIMPLE CASES. UNDER THIS PRACTICE, ATTORNEYS SCREENED INCOMING APPEALS, PRIMARILY IN THE CRIMINAL FIELD, AND PREPARED MEMORANDUM OPINIONS FOR RETAINED CASES. SEVERAL JUDGES EMPLOYED LAW STUDENTS WORKING TEMPORARILY AND PART-TIME TO PERFORM RESEARCH AND OTHER RECORDKEEPING DUTIES. THE SELECTIVE PUBLICATION OF OPINIONS WAS ANOTHER DEVICE USED BY JUDGES. MANY JUDGES THOUGHT THAT THE INFLUX OF NONMERITORIOUS CASES AFFECTED THEIR BEHAVIOR, EVEN IN DECISIONS SCHEDULED FOR PUBLICATION. WHETHER CALIFORNIA SHOULD CHANGE THE JURISDICTION AND OPERATION OF ITS APPEAL COURT SYSTEM DEPENDS ON POPULAR CONSENSUS AS TO THE PROPER FUNCTION OF INTERMEDIATE TRIBUNALS IN THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM. THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL IS DETAILED. (DEP)
Index Term(s): Appellate courts; California; Decisionmaking; Dispositions; Judges; Juries
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50064

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