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JAJES 0. EASTLAND, Mississippi, Chairman JOHN L. MCCLELLAN, Arkansas

ROMAN L. HRUSKA, Nebraska SAM J. ERVIN, JR., North Carolina

HIRAN L. FOXG, Hawaii PHILIP A. HART, Michigan

HUGH SCOTT, Pennsylvania EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts STROM THURMOND, South Carolina BIRCH BAYH, Indiana

MARLOW W. COOK, Kentucky QUENTIN N. BURDICK, North Dakota CHARLES McC. MATHIAS, JR., Maryland ROBERT C. BYRD, West Virginia

EDWARD J. GURNEY, Florida JOHN V. TUNNEY, California


QUENTIN N. BURDICK, North Dakota, Chairman JOHN L. MCCLELLAN, Arkansas

ROMAN L. HRUSKA, Nebraska PHILIP A. HART, Michigan

HUGH SCOTT, Pennsylvania
SAM J. ERVIN, JR., North Carolina

William P. WESTPHAL, Chief Counsel
THOMAS L. BURGUM, Deputy Counsel
MICHAEL J. MULLEN, Deputy Counsel
JEFFREY A. BOGUE, Deputy Counsel

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Pursuant to Senate Resolution 56, agreed to February 27, 1973, the Subcommittee on Improvements in Judicial Machinery has continued to conduct studies, surveys, and examinations of many aspects of the Federal Judicial system, with a view to determining what legislation is needed to further the purpose of the Federal judicial system in providing impartial and efficient administration of justice.

The purposes of this report are to delineate the major areas of concern of the subcommittee during the 1st session of the 93d Congress, and for the future, and to furnish a summary of the status of legislation referred to the subcommittee up to the time of adjournment.


At the outset, it is fitting to describe the current status of the Federal court system, as evidenced by the annual Report of the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (1973).

For the first time since 1964, the number of civil and criminal cases filed during fiscal year 1973 in the District Courts decreased by 4,233, from 145,227 cases in 1972 to 140,994 cases in 1973. Civil cases filed totalled 98,560, an increase of 2.5 percent or 2,387 cases. However, criminal filings declined 14.2 percent, a decrease of 6,676 cases, to a total of 40,367 cases. While Selective Service cases showed the largest numerical decrease, there were also decreases in the following offenses: robbery, homicide, banking and postal violations, burglary, larceny, embezzlement, auto theft, forgery and counterfeiting, sex offenses, liquor and internal revenue violations, and others. Only the following categories had an increase in fiscal 1973: assault, fraud, narcotics, civil rights, motor carrier act, and miscellaneous general offenses. Cases terminated totalled 141,715, a slight drop from the preceding year, but still in excess of filings. Cases pending as of June 30, 1973, remained relatively high at 125,749 cases.

The credit for much of these accomplishments must go to the 400 active and 60 senior district court judges. As the Administrative Office report points out, most of the 94 districts were able to operate with full bench strength since there were only 12 vacancies. The record could probably be better if some of the prolonged vacancies could be avoided.

The reported statistics also demonstrate the success of congressional action in recent years. The U.S. Magistrate System, which has an increasing number of full-time magistrates, has been able to handle more cases, thus freeing judges for more bench time. For example, magistrates handled a total of 251,218 matters, of which 84,850 were minor and petty offenses. Magistrates also handled over 25,000 matters in civil cases, including pre-trial conferences and certain pre-trial discovery motions. Marine personal injury cases declined by 15 percent, very probably due to the amendments to the Longshoremens and Harbor Workers Act passed by the 92d Congress. With the end of the war in Southeast Asia, Selective Service cases declined 40.8 percent and these cases will disappear by the end of the current year. The subcommittee notes that for the first time in almost a decade we are seeing a stabilization of case loads, which is a direct result of Congress and the courts working together to find new approaches to the problems of providing efficient machinery for the administration of justice.

For several years the Courts of Appeals have had serious problems attempting to cope with an ever increasing number of cases filed in these courts for appellate review. Some indication of the magnitude of the problem will become apparent by reference to certain judicial statistics over the past 20 years. In 1953, 3,226 cases were filed in the several Courts of Appeals which then had a total complement of 57 judges, or an average of 56 cases per judge. In 1963, the caseload had risen to 5,039 cases and the number of authorized judgeships had increased to 78, making an average of 64 cases per judge. However in 1973, the total filings in these courts had risen to 15,629, which for 97 authorized judgeships resulted in an average of 161 cases per judge. Thus, in just the past 10 years, the total caseload of the Courts of Appeals has tripled while the number of judgeships has increased by only 24 percent.

The total filings as shown in Table II when divided by the number of authorized judges yields the following statistics showing the filings per judge for fiscal year 1973: First Circuit

134 Second Circuit

190 Third Circuit.. Fourth Circuit..

225 Fifth Circuit.. Sixth Circuit.

140 Seventh Circuit.

140 Eighth Circuit... Ninth Circuit_ Tenth Circuit.

130 D.C. Circuit----

In order to maintain some relative degree of currency in their dockets, all of these courts have been forced to adopt various screening procedures whereby the least complex cases (as well as those of little merit) could be identified and decided within a minimum period of time. Lawyers in these circuits have generally accepted, although with



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some reluctance, such procedural innovations, recognizing that the only other alternative would be an unacceptable delay in the appellate process. An appraisal of these and similar innovations adopted by some of the Courts of Appeals is a matter which will be considered by the subcommittee and evaluated in the light of the requirements of due process and principles of fundamental fairness since an inadequate bench strength invites resort to additional expediencies. Hearings will be held in the second session of this Congress on the most recent request of the Judicial Conference of the United States for the creation of eleven additional circuit judgeships.


The United States Supreme Court during its October 1972 term continued to experience an increase in the number of cases filed although the rate of increase was slightly less than in the prior term. The total number of cases on the original, appellate and miscellaneous dockets reached a new all-time high of 4,639 cases. Of this total, 3,751 were new filings and 888 were cases pending at the beginning of the term. While the court disposed of 3,748 cases, almost equal to the new filings, the volume of cases processed by the court remains a matter of concern. However, it should be recognized that 2,000 of the new filings were in forma pauperis cases of which all but 66 were deemed not worthy of review or decision by the court.

During the 1972 term, 162 cases were granted review, a figure almost identical to the number of cases granted review in recent years. As was noted in the last report of this subcommittee, the caseload problems of the Supreme Court were the subject of a report and recommendation made by the so-called Freund Committee which was released late in December 1972. One of the recommendations of the Freund Committee was for the creation of a new court, denominated the National Court of Appeals, whose principal function would be to screen petitions for certiorari. The intervening year has given the bar and legal scholars an opportunity to reflect upon the Freud Report. The report has evoked both support and criticism. It has also stimulated much discussion and in a few instances concrete alternative solutions to the problem. Alternative solutions have emanated from both the American Bar Association and from the Advisory Council on Appellate Justice. Because discussions of the Supreme Court's caseload problems continue at a lively pace and because this subcommittee believes that consideration of this problem should be undertaken only after the Congress has acted to improve both the district and the circuit courts, no purpose can be served in this report of the subcommittee by a detailed discussion either of the Freund proposal or the various alternative solutions.

The following tables summarize the judicial statistics for the various courts. The complete statistical presentation, including comparison to prior years, is available in the Annual Report of the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (1973).

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