Ninth Circuit Judges Participate in
U.C. - Davis Symposium on Managing the Federal Courts
Chief Judge Procter Hug, Jr., and three other Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges participated in a day-long symposium on Friday, March 24. Sponsored by the University of California at Davis School of Law, the topic was “Managing the Federal Courts: Will the Ninth Circuit Be a Model for Change?”
|The symposium consisted of three panels. The first, titled “Implications of the White Commission,” consisted of Ninth Circuit Judge Pamela Rymer, Professor John Oakley, Mr. Scott Bales, Ms. Miriam Krinsky, and Professor Loren Robel. Professor Thomas Baker moderated the panel and reviewed 30 years of literature on the subject of federal court restructuring. Judge Rymer, a member of the White Commission, explained the divisional proposal espoused by the Commission. Mr. Bales and Ms. Krinsky provided the government’s point of view in maintaining the stability of circuit law through a stable non-divisional structure. Professor Robel described her empirical research on opinion publication rates which showed that the Ninth Circuit ranks ninth in the percentage of its opinions that are published and has about the lowest percentage of lawyers who are concerned that they can not cite to unpublished decisions.|
|The second panel, entitled “Contemplating the Future of the Federal Courts of Appeals: Opinions and Perspectives,” consisted of Sixth Circuit Judge Gilbert Merritt, Third Circuit Judge Robert Becker, Professor Arthur Hellman, and Professor Carl Tobias. Professor Oakley moderated. Judge Merritt, also a member of the White Commission, reported that unrestrained growth was the motivating force behind the recommendations of the White Commission. Judge Becker argued that no circuit as big as the Ninth Circuit could have judges who could master the circuit law and urged splitting both the circuit and California and saw no problem with doing so. Professor Hellman presented his position that consistency of decisions was not a problem for the circuit or the judges, and Professor Tobias concurred.|
|In the third panel, entitled “Innovations in the Ninth Circuit,” Chief Judge Hug described how the divisional approach is inflexible and will create, rather than reduce, intracircuit conflict. Judge Browning reviewed the long list of Ninth Circuit case management innovations, including issue coding, use of oral screening panels, pre-publication circulation of opinions, and the long-range planning process. Clerk of Court Cathy Catterson described some of the court’s internal operating procedures to avoid case conflicts. Judge David Thompson, chair of the circuit’s Evaluation Committee, reported on that committee’s more than two dozen recent recommendations to enhance court operations (the committee’s report is available at link).|
The University of California at Davis Law Review intends to publish the edited transcript and supporting papers in an entire issue of its review later this year.