Rationing Revisited: Federal Court Reform in the Post-Crisis Era

77 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2012

Date Written: September 24, 2012


Rapidly growing caseload volume has been a thorn in the side of the federal appellate system for decades. The federal caseload crisis has been managed by internal procedural reforms such as reduction of oral argument, increased reliance on court staff, and limitations on the publication of opinions. These changes, while efficient, have altered the nature of appellate justice. We have diminished or even abandoned some traditional appellate values to obtain a more efficient appellate procedure. This Article examines the many federal court reform proposals of the last half-century, ranging from small internal reforms to major structural reforms to fundamental jurisdictional reforms. While the reforms actually adopted could be categorized as “internal” or “minor,” they have, in fact, had a significant effect on both caseload pressures and appellate values. The twenty-first century discussion of federal court reform should focus on restoring and preserving traditional appellate values in the face of the existing federal caseload. Perhaps a sober second look, freed from the atmosphere of crisis, will result in reform that restores some of the traditional appellate process while still managing present, and anticipated future, caseload volume.

Keywords: federal court, reform, justice, appeal, appellate

Suggested Citation

Cleveland, David R., Rationing Revisited: Federal Court Reform in the Post-Crisis Era (September 24, 2012). Cleveland State Law Review, Forthcoming; Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2151508

David R. Cleveland (Contact Author)

Valparaiso University Law School ( email )

656 S. Greenwich St.
Valparaiso, IN 46383-6493
United States
(219) 465-7853 (Phone)

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