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The Politics of Federal Judicial Administration

The Politics of Federal Judicial Administration

Peter Graham Fish
Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 542
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  • Book Info
    The Politics of Federal Judicial Administration
    Book Description:

    Although administrative policy-making is overshadowed by the drama of judicial decision-making, it is a vital part of the judicial process. Peter Graham Fish examines the structure and legislative history of the various institutions of the federal judicial administration, their development, and their operation. He focuses on the lower courts to show that, although it is delimited by a network of formal institutions, the federal judicial administration is characterized by informality and voluntarism and depends, as he emphasizes, on the roles played by individual judges.

    As administrators, judges become deeply involved in politics, and Peter Graham Fish concentrates on the politics of the national judicial administration. Within this framework he raises enduring issues: Shall local federal judges be wholly independent or must they conform to uniform standards of law and administration? Shall administration be separate and diffused or united and centralized? Shall politics be superior or subordinate to so-called standards of "'efficiency"? Shall the interests of trial judges prevail over or be subordinate to the regional and national interests of appellate judges? How shall money, manpower, jurisdictional, and structural changes be distributed among the courts? To what extent, if any, should judges modify their behavior or institutions to meet external criticism?

    Originally published in 1973.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6832-2
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Administrative Heritage and Reform, 1789–1922
    (pp. 3-39)

    From its inception, the hallmarks of the federal judiciary’s administrative system have been independence, decentralization, and individualism. The courts in their judicial decision-making were rendered independent of the executive and legislative branches of government by Article III of the Constitution. That Article’s guarantee of tenure during good behavior and undiminished salary while a judge held office reinforced judicial independence and promoted the administrative autonomy of each magistrate.

    Congress, however, retained great power over the judicial branch, for it might, in its discretion, “ordain and establish” courts inferior to the Supreme Court. As it turned out, legislative exercise of this power...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Judicial Conference: Formative Years under Taft and Hughes
    (pp. 40-90)

    The first meeting of the Judicial Conference, held in December 1922, established the pattern of organization to which subsequent Conferences would conform. To this session came the senior circuit judges of each of the nine circuits as required by statute.¹ Six years later, creation of the Tenth Circuit out of the sprawling Eighth² brought an additional senior circuit judge to the Conference.³ Then, in 1937, circuit representation was increased to eleven with the admission of the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Although this tribunal was a “court of the United States” and the...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Justice Department as Judicial Administrator: Problems, Protest, and Reform Proposals
    (pp. 91-124)

    Establishment of the Judicial Conference in 1922 built into the federal judiciary a new administrative dimension. Yet its addition affected only in a small way the extensive role played by the Department of Justice in the administration of the United States courts, a role it would continue to play until 1939. The Attorney General, as head of that department, stood at the center of a far-flung administrative network. As chief law officer for the United States government, he was responsible for the prosecution of all government cases and supervised the work of his agents—the United States attorneys.¹

    In a...

  7. CHAPTER 4 The Administrative Office Act of 1939
    (pp. 125-165)

    The aspirations and apprehensions which stirred federal judges during the court fight of 1937 induced some of their number to sponsor a reform program of their own. With the endorsement of the American Bar Association,¹ and the active support of its president, Arthur T. Vanderbilt,² a bill drafted in the spring of 1936 by Judge Martin T. Manton and Charles E. Stewart of the Department of Justice was revived.³

    Unlike the administration’s proctor proposal, this measure was the successor to earlier Conference proposals for the separation of appellate court administration from the Department of Justice. Transferring the department’s administrative functions...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Part I
    (pp. 166-199)

    Although judges and legislators alike regarded the circuit councils as the real locus of administrative power, the immediate effect of the Act of 1939 was the organizing of the judiciary’s housekeeping agency—the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. To this end, selection of a director and assistant director constituted the first order of business. Under the Act, they were to “be appointed by the Supreme Court of the United States and hold office at the pleasure of and be subject to removal by the aforesaid court.”¹ Once the Court had chosen them, it became “functus officio,”² for thereafter,...

  9. CHAPTER 6 The Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Part II
    (pp. 200-227)

    In addition to administering an increasing number of programs for the courts, the Administrative Office performed crucial staff and liaison functions. It became the secretariat for the Judicial Conference and its committees and an instrument of liaison between the judicial system and Congress, individual judges, professional organizations, and other governmental agencies. Thus the office undertook tasks which had been either performed by the Justice Department, however inadequately, or not performed at all. And so from its earliest years, the agency rendered a wide variety of staff services to the Judicial Conference and the many committees of that body. The Division...

  10. CHAPTER 7 The Judicial Conference of the United States, 1939–1969
    (pp. 228-268)

    The Administrative Office Act of 1939 made a profound impact on the quantity and quality of business considered by the Judicial Conference. In the words of Chief Justice Hughes, it “greatly enlarged the responsibilities of the … Conference of Senior Circuit Judges”¹ which, contended Judge D. Lawrence Groner, now included “many activities which were never thought of in the original scheme of things.”² These new functions related to duties previously performed by the Department of Justice or, in the case of clerks’ fees, by the Supreme Court. Only rarely had the old Conference given them much, if any, attention.³ Now,...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. CHAPTER 8 The Committee System of the Judicial Conference
    (pp. 269-300)

    Post-1939 changes in the Judicial Conference as a whole were accompanied by equally significant modifications in that institutions committee system. Committees had existed since 1922, but those established under Taft and Hughes were relatively few in number and typically select rather than standing committees. Once the work of the Conference expanded in the wake of the Administrative Office Act, this system became inadequate.

    Thus a proliferation of committees marked the work of the early Conferences presided over by Chief Justice Stone. At the first held under his chairmanship, seven committees were created as contrasted to the three authorized by the...

  13. CHAPTER 9 The Judicial Conference and Congress
    (pp. 301-339)

    “Since the establishment of the Administrative Office, Congress has more and more come to rely upon the Judicial Conference for recommendations in relation to the general subject of administration of justice in the Federal Courts,” observed Judge D. Lawrence Groner in 1944.¹ The Judicial Conference, now enjoying the expertise of the Administrative Office and an expanded committee system, packaged and presented to the committees of Congress more legislative proposals than ever before. Reflecting this enlarged liaison role, the Conference received formal authorization for what had heretofore been mere custom. The 1948 revision of the Judicial Code required that the Chief...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Administrative Regionalism and Centralism: From Circuit Conferences to the Federal Judicial Center
    (pp. 340-378)

    Innovation at the center of the judiciary’s administrative network predictably influenced the development of those on the periphery. Thus emergence of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and far-reaching changes in the structure and work of the Judicial Conference and its committees vitally affected the nature and functions of the circuit conferences, stimulated the growth of additional forums of education and communication, and ultimately spurred establishment of a new central agency for research and development in judicial administration as well as for education. Some of these agencies, particularly those on a circuit level, strengthened the voice of parochial...

  15. CHAPTER 11 The Circuit Councils: Linchpins of Administration
    (pp. 379-426)

    In the years since enactment of the Administrative Office Bill of 1939, circuit council organization has changed, little from that envisioned and secured by the Act’s judicial framers.¹ Committees of the several councils have, however, emerged with the increase in appellate judgeships and the need for greater specialization.² “Whenever a problem comes up at one of the … meetings of our Judicial Council in which inquiry must be made,” Judge Carl McGowan of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stated, “our only resource, and our invariable practice, is to appoint anad hoccommittee of two...

  16. CHAPTER 12 Politics and Administration: A Dilemma
    (pp. 427-437)

    Judicial administration has long enjoyed the status of a “timely topic.” Courts and judges never seem to be performing quite as well as their critics, sometimes legions of critics, think they should. Catastrophe and collapse of an independent judiciary is prophesied. And the inventory of reasons for the approaching Armageddon is long indeed: burgeoning caseloads, complex litigation, procrastinating lawyers and judges, anachronistic court structures and procedures, and the encroachment of “politics,” to name a few. The traditional solution proposed is constructed around the goal of efficiency in processing judicial business. Politics is perceived as playing little or no part in...

  17. Appendix A. Judicial Conference Reports
    (pp. 438-439)
  18. Appendix B. Judicial Conference Attendance by Year
    (pp. 440-450)
  19. Appendix C. Judges in Attendance at the Judicial Conference by Circuit
    (pp. 451-456)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 457-498)
  21. Index
    (pp. 499-528)