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NCJ Number: 66686 Find in a Library
Title: RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OPINION WRITING BY FEDERAL TRIAL JUDGES AND THE TERMINATION RATES OF THE DISTRICT COURTS
Journal: JUSTICE SYSTEM JOURNAL  Volume:5  Issue:2  Dated:(WINTER 1979)  Pages:187-196
Author(s): R A CARP; C K ROWLAND
Corporate Author: Institute for Court Management
United States of America
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 10
Sponsoring Agency: Institute for Court Management
Denver, CO 80202
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS STUDY QUESTIONED WHETHER THE OUTPUT OF AVERAGE DISTRICT JUDGES' PUBLISHED OPINIONS IS INVERSELY RELATED TO THEIR CASE TERMINATION RATE.
Abstract: THE YEARS 1962-75 WERE USED FOR AN EXAMINATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BY YEAR BETWEEN 28,265 OPINIONS PUBLISHED IN THE 'FEDERAL SUPPLEMENT' AND AVERAGE TERMINATIONS PER JUDGE (DATA FOUND IN THE 'ANNUAL REPORTS OF THE DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE U.S. COURTS'). ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WAS COLLECTED FROM INDEPTH INTERVIEWS WITH 30 DISTRICT JUDGES AND NUMEROUS LAWYERS AND OTHER COURT PERSONNEL. THE STUDY INCLUDED ONLY PUBLISHED OPINIONS WHICH APPEARED IN THE 'SUPPLEMENT.' VARIOUS COMPUTER-AIDED REGRESSION TECHNIQUES REVEALED THAT THE INVERSE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TERMINATION RATES AND OPINION PREPARATION APPEARS TO BE TRUE ONLY FOR OPINION WRITERS IN BUSY, LOW PRODUCTIVITY DISTRICT COURTS, BUT NOT FOR JUDGES IN GENERAL. ALSO, JUDGES ON THE WHOLE SEEM ABLE TO PREPARE MORE WRITTEN OPINIONS DESPITE INCREASING LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE DEMANDS. THESE FINDINGS SUGGEST THAT JURISTS IN BUSY, URBAN COURTS MAY NEED TO RESTRICT THEIR OPINION DRAFTING, WHILE IN THE MORE RELAXED DISTRICT COURTS IN RURAL AND SMALLER COMMUNITIES, JUDGES MAY BE ABLE TO CONTINUE A HIGH RATE OF OPINION PUBLICATION. ONE REASON FOR THE COURTS' INCREASED OUTPUT OF CASES AND WRITTEN OPINIONS IS THE INCREASE IN SUPPORT STAFFS AVAILABLE TO JUDGES. LAW CLERKS PERFORM MUCH OF THE DRAFTING OF OPINIONS AND LIBRARY RESEARCH, AND LAW STUDENTS ALSO CONTRIBUTE TO JUDGES' INCREASED OPINION WRITING. MOREOVER, JUDGES AND CLERKS CONCEDED THAT MANY OPINIONS ARE OFTEN BORROWED VIRTUALLY INTACT FROM THE BRIEFS OF ATTORNEYS WHOSE SIDE PREVAILED IN THE TRIAL. ALTHOUGH THESE FACTORS MAY ACCOUNT IN PART FOR JUDGES' CAPACITY TO PREPARE AND PUBLISH OPINIONS AT ABOUT THE SAME RATE AS THEIR CASELOADS HAVE INCREASED, FURTHER SYSTEMATIC RESEARCH MUST BE CONDUCTED REGARDING THE MANNER IN WHICH OPINIONS ARE PREPARED BY TRIAL JUDGES. REFERENCES, A TABLE, AND TWO GRAPHS ARE SUPPLIED. (MHP)
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Court case flow; Court personnel; Dispositions; District Courts; Judges; Judicial decisions; Law student aides
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=66686

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