Appellate Study Commission Issues Draft Report for Public Comment
The Commission on Structural Alternatives for the Federal Courts of Appeals today
issued its draft report for public comment. Comments on the report --which can be found on
the Commission's Internet web site at http://app.comm.uscourts.gov -- are due by
November 6, 1998. Copies of the draft have been mailed to government leaders and persons
who have expressed an interest in the Commission and its work. The Commission must submit
its final report to the President and Congress by December 19, 1998.
Congress created the Commission in late 1997 and charged it with studying the structure
and alignment of the federal appellate system with particular attention to the Ninth
Circuit. The five-member Commission is chaired by Retired Justice Byron White.
The Commission conducted six public hearings and received numerous written comments
before preparing its draft report. The draft discusses tentative recommendations reached
by the Commission consistent with its statutory mandate to recommend to the President and
Congress "such changes in circuit boundaries or structure as may be appropriate for
the expeditious and effective disposition of the caseload of the Federal Courts of
Appeals, consistent with fundamental concepts of fairness and due process."
The report's tentative recommendations include the following:
- that Congress enact a statute organizing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals into three
regionally based adjudicative divisions, each division with a majority of its judges
resident in its region, and each having exclusive jurisdiction over appeals from judicial
districts within its region. Each division would function as a semi-autonomous decisional
unit. A Circuit Division would resolve conflicts of law between regional divisions,
replacing the current limited en banc system. The administrative responsibilities of the
Ninth Circuit itself would continue to be carried out within current circuit boundaries.
- that Congress enact a statute authorizing any court of appeals with more than 13
judgeships to organize itself into adjudicative divisions. The court would have an option
in this regard until its membership exceeds 17 judgeships, at which time it would be
required to adopt a divisional plan.
- that Congress enact a statute authorizing each court of appeals to decide some types of
selected cases using panels of two rather than three judges.
- that Congress enact a statute authorizing circuit judicial councils to establish
district court appellate panels to provide appellate review in designated categories of
cases with panels of two district judges and one circuit judge, with discretionary review
available thereafter in the court of appeals.
- that Congress not authorize direct review in the courts of appeals of bankruptcy court
decisions, but rather consider several specific alternatives.
Two members of the Commission wrote separately to present a proposal to reduce
diversity of citizenship jurisdiction in the federal courts.
|Comments can be sent to the Commission using one of the following means:
electronic mail through the Internet to the following address -- Appellate_Commission_Comments@ao.uscourts.gov
2. by electronic mail to the following address for those within the judicial
branch only using cc:Mail -- Appellate Commission Comments
3. by mail to the Commission on Structural Alternatives for the Federal Courts of
Appeals, Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building, One Columbus Circle, N.E.,
Washington, DC 20544
4. by fax: 202-208-5102.
For those using mail or fax, the Commission asks that a copy of the comments also be
submitted on a computer diskette in a format readable by a standard word processing
program. Further instructions about sending submissions by electronic mail are available
on the Commission's website at http://app.comm.uscourts.gov.
Comments received will be placed on the Commission's website.