Judge Shopping in the Eastern District of Texas
22 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2017 Last revised: 20 Jun 2017
Date Written: December 25, 2016
Judge Rodney Gilstrap has a lot of patent cases on his docket. In fact, in 2015 there were 1,686 patent cases that were filed and assigned to Judge Gilstrap, an astronomical number for a single judge. Judge Gilstrap — one of eight federal judges who sit on the Eastern District of Texas — is so popular with patent plaintiffs that over one-fourth of all patent cases in the country are heard by him. This Article addresses the problems with allowing this judge shopping to occur. It reviews the scholarship on the topic that is almost universally opposed to judge shopping for reasons of judicial legitimacy. In addition to those concerns, this Article argues against judge shopping for a separate reason. Judge shopping is often a way that district courts compete for litigation. It is this competition that poses the greatest threat to judicial impartiality. To effectively root out judge shopping in patent cases, some form of venue reform is needed in patent law. Either congressional action or changes from the Supreme Court are required to more evenly distribute the patent cases across the country.
Keywords: Patent Law, Judicial Role, Federal Courts, Eastern District of Texas, Judge Shopping, Forum Shopping
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