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Federal Judicial Center Celebrates 50 Years: Improving Federal Court Administration and Operation


Over the years, Center research has focused on approaches to improving the operation and administration of the federal courts.



The Quality of Advocacy in the Federal Courts: A Report to the Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States to Consider Standards for Admission to Practice in the Federal Courts

A report on judges' evaluations of lawyers' performance in federal district courts and courts of appeals, undertaken in response to Chief Justice Burger's criticism of federal court advocacy. Based on surveys of trial and appellate judges and attorneys, as well as on ratings of videotaped trial performance, the study analyzes relationships between performance and lawyer characteristics (role in case, size of law office, and lawyer's age, experience, and education) and identifies areas of deficiency in trial and appellate skills.
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1979, 1997, 2003, 2015

District Court Case Weighting Studies

Different types of cases impose different work demands on judges. Case weights are a measure of the average time consumed by cases of one type relative to other types. In 2003–2004, the Federal Judicial Center conducted a study to update existing weights for federal district courts using an event-based method. This method, which was new to the federal courts, combined information on the type and frequency of case events with information on the time judges require to complete these events. The Judicial Conference Committee on Judicial Resources and its Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics, which requested the study, approved the new set of weights in June 2004.
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Bankruptcy Court Case Weighting Studies

This study, done at the request of the Bankruptcy Division of the Administrative Office, is an analysis of the caseload burdens of bankruptcy judges, using a refinement of the time study method developed in the 1979 district court time study. The report describes in detail what was then a new methodology and explains how to use case weights to produce weighted caseload measurements. (This methodology was further refined to produce A Day in the Life: The Federal Judicial Center's 1988–1989 Bankruptcy Court Time Study.)
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Visiting Judges in Federal District Courts

A description of the methods used by eighteen district courts to ensure that a visiting judge's stay is satisfying and productive for both the visitor and the court. Issues covered include selection and preparation of the visiting judge's caseload, orientation to the court, and the visitor's impact on court staff and facilities.
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The Roles of Magistrates: Nine Case Studies

The findings of an in-depth study of the use of magistrate judges in nine district courts, in the context of each court's approach to court administration and case management. The author describes three models for the use of magistrate judges: as "additional judges," as specialists, and as team players. The report also examines the extent to which magistrate judges' work is challenged by lawyers.
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1992, 2009

A Guide to the Judicial Management of Bankruptcy Mega-Cases

This guide pools the knowledge of bankruptcy judges and clerks of court experienced in handling mega-cases. It describes the general time line of a mega-case, issues that are likely to arise, and how other judges have approached those issues. The guide reflects management strategies set by statute, by case law, by local rules, and by general orders, and how they are employed by individual judges. Exhibits discussed in the guide include downloadable sample procedures and guidelines, orders, and other materials.
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Electronic Media Coverage of Federal Civil Proceedings: An Evaluation of the Pilot Program in Six District Courts and Two Courts of Appeals

An evaluation of the Judicial Conference's 1991–1993 pilot program allowing electronic media coverage of federal civil proceedings in six district and two appellate courts. The report, which was originally presented to the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, provides information concerning applications for coverage and proceedings actually covered, as well as a content analysis of news broadcasts incorporating such coverage. It summarizes results from surveys of judges and attorneys in the pilot courts; interviews with judges, court staff administrators, and media representatives; and state studies of the effects of electronic media presence on witnesses and jurors.
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The Civil Justice Reform Act Expense and Delay Reduction Plans: A Sourcebook

An overview of the U.S. district courts' Civil Justice Reform Act expense and delay reduction plans. Seventeen tables summarize the courts' civil case management procedures and techniques in terms of common elements, such as service of process, motions, and alternative dispute resolution.
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Effective Use of Courtroom Technology: A Judge's Guide to Pretrial and Trial

This publication is the result of a joint project between the Federal Judicial Center and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. It describes the substantive and procedural considerations that may arise when lawyers bring electronic equipment to the courtroom or use court-provided equipment for displaying or playing evidentiary exhibits or illustrative aids during trial.
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The Use of Courtrooms in U.S. District Courts: A Report to the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration & Case Management

At the request of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, the Federal Judicial Center conducted a study of the use of courtrooms in the U.S. district courts. The committee requested the study in response to a November 2005 congressional subcommittee request for an empirical study of the use of federal courtrooms. The study was conducted between early 2006 and spring 2008, with data collected in twenty-six district courts during the period January 15–July 15, 2007.
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Illustrative Forms of Class Action Notices

At the request of the Subcommittee on Class Actions of the U.S. judicial branch's Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Judicial Center developed illustrative notices of proposed class action certification and settlement.
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2011, 2014

Jurors' Use of Social Media During Trials and Deliberations: A Report to the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management; Jurors' and Attorneys' Use of Social Media During Voir Dire, Trials, and Deliberations: A Report to the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management

This report summarizes the results of a Center survey of district court judges to assess the frequency with which jurors used social media to communicate during trials and deliberations and to identify strategies for curbing this behavior.
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