The Rise of Judicial Management in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, 1955-2000
This is the first book-length study of a federal district
court to analyze the revolutionary changes in its mission,
structure, policies, and procedures over the past four decades. As
Steven Harmon Wilson chronicles the court's attempts to keep pace
with an expanding, diversifying caseload, he situates those efforts
within the social, cultural, and political expectations that have
prompted the increase in judicial seats from four in 1955 to the
Federal judges have progressed from being simply referees of
legal disputes to managers of expanding courts, dockets, and
staffs, says Wilson. The Southern District of Texas offers an
especially instructive model by which to study this transformation.
Not only does it contain a varied population of Hispanics, African
Americans, and whites, but its jurisdiction includes an
international border and some of the busiest seaports in the United
States. Wilson identifies three areas of judicial management in
which the shift has most clearly manifested itself. Through docket
and case management judges have attempted to rationalize the flow
of work through the litigation process. Lastly, and most
controversially, judges have sought to bring "constitutionally
flawed" institutions into compliance through "structural reform"
rulings in areas such as housing, education, employment, and
Wilson draws on sources ranging from judicial biography and
oral-history interviews to case files, published opinions, and
administrative memoranda. Blending legal history with social
science, this important new study ponders the changing meaning of
federal judgeship as it shows how judicial management has both
helped and hindered the resolution of legal conflicts and the
protection of civil rights.
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