Post-Crisis Reconsideration of Federal Court Reform

David R. Cleveland, Valparaiso University


While the language of crisis has diminished, the caseload volume problem continues to bedevil the federal appellate courts, and the altered process adopted describe, there are just too many cases to handle with current resources using the time-honored appellate process; there is no simple solution. The path of least resistance—sacrificing appellate standards—has proven workable and effective, and the more significant steps such as reducing appeals or increasing judicial resources have gone unadopted. Various studies and proposals of the federal court system have suggested other methods that could be used to address the problem, and these methods should be seriously considered by the federal judiciary and Congress to improve access, fairness, and accountability. If need be, a new federal court study should be undertaken to help select some of these methods or generate new twentyfirst century methods of addressing the issue. Perhaps a sober second look, freed from the debate over the existence of a crisis, will result in reform that restores some of the traditional appellate process while still managing present, and anticipated future, caseload volume.