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The United States Circuit Courts of Appeals are among the most important governmental institutions in our society. However, because the Supreme Court can hear less than 150 cases per year, the Circuit Courts (with a combined caseload of over 60,000) are, for practical purposes, the courts of last resort for all but a tiny fraction of federal court litigation. Thus, their significance, both for ultimate dispute resolution and for the formation and application of federal law, cannot be overstated. Yet, in the last forty years, a dramatic increase in caseload and a systemic resistance to an increased judgeship have led to a crisis. Signed published opinions form only a small percentage of dispositions; judges confer on fifty routine cases in an afternoon; and most litigants are denied oral argument completely. InInjustice on Appeal: The United States Courts of Appeals in Crisis, William M. Richman and William L. Reynolds chronicle the transformation of the United States Circuit Courts; consider the merits and dangers of continued truncating procedures; catalogue and respond to the array of specious arguments against increasing the size of the judiciary; and consider several ways of reorganizing the circuit courts so that they can dispense traditional high quality appellate justice even as their caseloads and the number of appellate judgeships increase. The work serves as an analytical capstone to the authors' thirty years of research on the issue and will constitute a powerful piece of advocacy for a more responsible and egalitarian approach to caseload glut facing the circuit courts.
WILLIAM M. RICHMAN is Distinguished University Professor at the University of Toledo College of Law.
WILLIAM L. REYNOLDS is the Jacob A. France Professor of Judicial Process at the University of Maryland School of Law.
For nearly 30 years, Professors Reynolds and Richman have investigated and commented on the changing internal operating procedures in the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals. The results of their work appear in a series of law review articles published in the Columbia Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, University of Chicago Law Review, Ohio State Law Journal, University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Cornell Law Review, Washington and Lee Law Review, and Judicature among others. Widely cited in the professional and academic literature on appellate court administration, caseload pressure, and procedural reform, they have effected at least some positive changes in several of the most controversial practices of the courts. Their previous joint publications include: The Full Faith and Credit Clause (2004); Jurisdiction in Civil Actions (3d ed. 1998); Cases and Materials on Conflict of Laws (2005); and Understanding Conflict of Laws (2002).