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In late 2017, the Committee on Defender Services (Committee) asked the Federal Judicial Center to generate a white paper on the potential effects on the federal courts and the defender services program of a determination that states have “opted in” to special expedited procedures created by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA).

After a brief discussion of some of the changes under “opt-in,” as Chapter 154’s procedures are called, this white paper discusses the potential impact of opt-in for the federal district and appellate courts with jurisdiction in Arizona and Texas, the two states that have applied for opt-in status thus far.

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The Patent Pilot Program (PPP), a ten-year pilot program addressing the assignment of patent cases in certain U.S. district courts, was established on January 4, 2011, by Pub. L. No. 111-349. At the request of the Judicial Conference’s Committee on Court Administration and Case Management, the Federal Judicial Center has been studying the PPP since the program's inception. This midpoint report presents key findings from the first five years of the program, gathering data for all patent cases filed on or after the individual PPP start date designated by each of the 13 current pilot courts through January 5, 2016. In that time, just over 12,000 patent cases were filed in the participating pilot districts.

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Hernandez v. Kirkham (Marcia A. Crone, E.D. Tex. 1:05-cv-134)
Eleven days after an election to create a hospital district, five residents filed a federal complaint charging that the election and earlier precinct changes had not received preclearance pursuant to section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. At a district court hearing two days later, the parties agreed to a temporary restraining order that enjoined the conveyance of any property to the hospital district until the end of April. The Justice Department granted preclearance in April, so the district court action was dismissed.
Topics: Section 5 preclearance; three-judge court.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Duke v. Lawson (Charles Everingham IV, E.D. Tex. 2:11-cv-246)
Voters opposing a school bond filed a federal complaint to enjoin the opening of school facilities for early voting. A magistrate judge denied the plaintiffs immediate relief, so the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case.
Topics: Poll locations; early voting.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

McBride v. City of Jasper (Zack Hawthorn, E.D. Tex. 1:11-cv-443)
City councilmembers sued to enjoin a recall election on the grounds that the recall effort was motivated by race and the city improperly allowed voters in multiple council districts to sign a recall petition although only voters in a councilmember’s district could vote in the recall election. The parties consented to a magistrate judge’s presiding over preliminary injunction proceedings. The injunction was denied.
Topics: Section 2 discrimination; enjoining elections; enforcing orders; intervention; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

The Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM) asked the Federal Judicial Center to develop and administer a short survey of district court judges to assess the frequency with which jurors use social media to communicate about cases during trial and deliberation. The survey also sought to identify strategies judges have found to be effective and appropriate in curbing this behavior. This report presents the findings from the survey. A subsequent survey in 2014 also considered attorneys' use of social media.

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