Golden Gate University Law Review


The federal court system has experienced substantial growth in case filings during the last decade, and certainly the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is no exception. During the period from 1970 to 1978, the court experienced almost a one hundred percent increase in yearly filings while the number of judgeships remained constant at thirteen. It is thus understandable that each year since 1970, case filings have consistently exceeded case terminations. However, a dramatic change in court membership has taken place in the past eighteen months. As a result of the recent appointments made pursuant to the Omnibus Judgeship Act of 1978, the court has a larger complement of judges to address its ever-increasing caseload. Of the twenty-three active judges now sitting on the court, only ten were serving in September 1979. In addition to the change in court membership, numerous procedural and administrative programs have been undertaken to expedite the flow of cases through the court. This Article will focus in part upon these programs. The next section of this Article provides an outline of the court's organization. The judicial and administrative role of the federal appellate judge is explained and the function of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council is outlined along with the upcoming changes in the composition of the Council. The relatively recent addition of the Circuit Executive's office is described along with the expansion plans for the circuit court library. The expanding role of the Clerk of Court is described with emphasis on the Clerk's case management responsibilities. An overview is also provided of the role of the central legal staff of the court and the important role it plays in improving court productivity. The third section of the Article describes the procedural innovations and new programs that have, in part, enabled the court to increase dramatically its disposition rate and that will enable it, hopefully, to become current within the next year.

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