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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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Woodard v. Allegheny County Board of Elections (Nora Barry Fischer, W.D. Pa. 2:12-cv-535)
The campaign manager for a special-election candidate for the state legislature filed a pro se federal complaint seeking relief from the disqualification of the candidate’s ballot petition signatures. At 4:00 p.m. on the day that the complaint was filed, the district judge conducted a 45-minute telephonic hearing. The judge dismissed the complaint because of the plaintiff’s lack of standing to pursue his candidate’s case and because the case sought relief from disappointing rulings already issued by the commonwealth’s courts in contravention of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, which states that among federal courts only the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction over state court proceedings.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; pro se party; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Public Interest v. Armstrong County Board of Elections (Donald E. Ziegler, W.D. Pa. 2:01-cv-1616)
A voter, a candidate, and a political organization filed a federal complaint challenging exclusion of the candidate from the ballot for a school board. The candidate nominated by the Democratic and the Republican Party was a suspect in jewelry thefts that included the voter as a victim. The voter and others tried to launch a new political party with the candidate as its nominee. The candidate was disqualified because he was a registered Democrat. After a hearing, the court granted judgment to the plaintiffs.
Topic: Getting on the ballot.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Service Employees International Union v. Municipality of Mt. Lebanon (Arthur J. Schwab, W.D. Pa. 2:04- cv-1651)
The district court was asked to resolve the constitutionality of county requirements for persons who wanted to go door-to-door over the weekend before a general election to encourage voting. In the short term, the counties relaxed their restrictions; in the long term, they revised them.
Topics: Door-to-door canvassing; recusal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Taylor v. Onorato (Gary L. Lancaster, W.D. Pa. 2:06-cv-481)
Approximately five weeks before a primary election, voters and a public interest group filed a federal suit to enjoin replacement of mechanical voting machines with electronic voting machines, relying on the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). On the case’s second day, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction. At the end of the case’s first week, the district judge held an informal in-chambers status conference, from which news media were excluded. After a three-day evidentiary hearing beginning a week later, the district judge determined that HAVA did not afford the plaintiffs a private right of action.
Topics: Voting technology; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); news media.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Pierce v. Allegheny County Board of Elections (Joy Flowers Conti, W.D. Pa. 2:03-cv-1677)
On the Friday before the November 2003 election, two candidates filed a federal action to enjoin the counting of absentee ballots that were delivered to the board of elections by persons other than the voters. The district judge cleared her calendar and held a hearing that afternoon, after which she ordered the ballots in question segregated. The judge conducted a day-long hearing on Monday; on Tuesday, she ruled that the ballots should remain segregated and deemed challenged under state law. State officials and state courts eventually determined that some of the ballots in question were valid and some were not.
Topics: Absentee ballots; ballot segregation; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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Neel v. Pippy (Arthur J. Schwab, W.D. Pa. 2:03-cv-302)
Eight days before a special election to fill a vacancy in Pennsylvania’s senate, three voters filed a federal complaint to block the election of a candidate who was a reserve officer recently called to active duty, claiming that the candidacy violated the Military Code. The district court ordered immediate briefing and held a hearing three days later, after which the court concluded that the Military Code did not afford the plaintiffs a private right of action for their case. The military granted the candidate a waiver, and he won.
Topics: Getting on the ballot; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

In Print: Available for Distribution

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. For a subsequent report on bankruptcy courtroom use, see The Use of Courtrooms in U.S. Bankruptcy Courts (2010).

Archival Copy on File

Clerk of the Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania James A. Drach transmits his district's Annual Assessment to L. Ralph Mecham of the Administrative Office.

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