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NCJ Number: 72340 Find in a Library
Title: Inconsistency in the United States Courts of Appeals Dimensions and Mechanisms for Resolution
Journal: Vanderbilt Law Review  Volume:32  Issue:6  Dated:(1979)  Pages:1343-1373
Author(s): S L Wasby
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 31
Sponsoring Agency: American Philosophical Soc Penrose Fund
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Intracircuit inconsistency, or doctrinal conflict within a circuit court, is discussed through examination of study findings focusing on extensive interviews with judges of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Abstract: Intracircuit inconsistency is a problem because lawyers advising their clients have difficulty in deciding which precedents to follow and district court judges are unsure what rules to apply in the cases that they must decide. Intracircuit inconsistency is not unique to the Ninth Circuit, but the problem appears to be more acute in that circuit because of the large number of active duty and 'extra' judges (senior circuit judges). The 1977 study which forms the basis of discussion involved openended interviews with presiding Ninth Circuit judges. Fourteen of the 15 judges interviewed said that district judges and lawyers in the circuit agree that there is inconsistency in the Ninth Circuit decisions. Almost all judges agreed that inconsistency occurs more frequently in some areas of the law than in others. It was generally agreed that it occurred disproportionately in criminal law cases with constitutional rights aspects, particularly in the search and seizure area. Cases involving guns, habeas corpus, and postconviction remedies were also cited. Judges did not agree on the gravity of the problem. They identified the principal cause of inconsistency as judges' attitudes or ideologies; many stressed the unintentional nature of inconsistency. Judges were virtually unanimous in stating that mechanisms exists to reduce or avoid the problem. Some reported using the LEXIS computer system, Shepardizing, and using the West index system. Other possible remedies which involve collegial action by the court include the holding of en banc sessions, screening, and the circulation of opinions. Footnotes which include references are provided.
Index Term(s): Appellate courts; Federal courts; Judges; Judicial decisions; Studies
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