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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76562 Find in a Library
Title: Courts of Appeals in the Federal Judicial System - A Study of the Second, Fifth and District of Columbia Circuits
Author(s): J W Howard
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 432
Sponsoring Agency: Princeton University Press
Princeton, NJ 08540
Sale Source: Princeton University Press
41 William Street
Princeton, NJ 08540
United States of America
Type: Statistics
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This book examines the second, fifth, and District of Columbia circuits to illustrate how courts of appeals contribute to decentralization and regionalization of Federal laws.
Abstract: Three factors that contribute to the problem are explored. These include factors that bind the highly decentralized Federal courts into a judicial system, what controls the discretion of judges in making law and policy, and how quality decisions can be maintained under heavy volume pressure. The author argues that diversity and uniformity are intrinsic to the Federal appellate process. To illustrate the finality and variety of circuit decisions, the author examines business and functions of three circuit courts between 1960 and 1979, tracking almost 5,000 appeals in the flow of litigation. Drawing on interviews with 35 circuit judges, the discussion covers political attitudes and role perceptions with regard to judicial voting behavior. It is concluded that shared political and professional values among judges undergird the system of formal review and that informal norms reduce conflict and help achieve consensus. Concerning strategies of reform, it is emphasized that excessive preoccupation with uniformity and modernization is inadvisable. The prudent reform course is a limited program geared to proven needs. Five figures, 83 tables, an index, chapter footnotes, and reference notes are provided. Methodological notes, and sources and subjects of court decisions are appended. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Appellate courts; Court case flow; Court statistics; District Courts; Federal courts; Judicial discretion
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