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NCJ Number: 78290 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Bureaucratic Justice - An Early Warning
Journal: University of Pennsylvania Law Review  Volume:129  Issue:4  Dated:(April 1981)  Pages:777-797
Author(s): W H McCree
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article, which is based on an address prepared by a former Federal and State court judge, examines the changes that have been made recently in the judicial process to accommodate the increase in the Federal caseload.
Abstract: To accommodate the increase in Federal litigation that has occurred in recent years, the number of Federal judges has dramatically increased at both the trial and appellate levels, as has the number of law clerks and staff attorneys employed in the courts of appeals. In addition, an increasing number of cases that are deemed lacking in merit are now decided without oral argument, formal opinion, or even a terse statement of reason. The article suggests that these changes, which have been made in the hope of increasing judicial productivity, have not been made without significant costs to the quality of justice. Depersonalization of the judicial function was prompted by Federal caseload increase. In 1980, 23,200 appeals were filed in the Federal courts, more than 6 times the number filed in 1940. However, attempts to deal with the increased volume of litigation have focused upon treating the symptoms rather than the cause. The system cannot continue to simply increase the number of active judges as caseloads increase. Many individuals who are qualified to serve as judges decline the position because of relatively low pay and the demanding work. Also, the expansion of the number of judgeships increases administrative problems, such as the potential for intracircuit conflicts. Moreover, delegation of the judge's work to law clerks is a questionable practice in terms of quality of the resultant decisions. The article suggests that a more appropriate solution to the caseload problem is to emphasize that Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Congress should determine where the bulk of the Federal caseload originates and determine where the jurisdiction of the Federal courts can best be cut back. The article provides 118 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Court case flow management; Court delays; Court of limited jurisdiction; Court system; Federal courts; Judges; Judicial process; Jurisdiction; Productivity
Note: This article is based on the Owen J. Roberts Memorial Lecture, delivered 24 September, 1980, under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Order of the Coif, the Law Alumni Society, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
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