John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States, issued a 2015 year-end report on the judiciary.
The Chief Justice focused on amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCivP), which became effective on December 1, 2015. The Chief Justice remarked that the government is responsible for providing a tribunal for peaceful resolution of disputes. Unlike that that occurred in the history of the United States, when disputes were resolved by dueling.
The Chief Justice noted that an advisory committee in 2010 determined that “while the federal courts are fundamentally sound, in many cases civil litigation has become too expensive, time consuming, and contentious, inhibiting effective access to the courts.”
[Author’s note: I have noticed the profound injustice explained in this observation in the employment discrimination case facing the Federal Reserve Board–Artis v.
Greenspan Bernanke Yellen. The length, circuitous route, and incredible expense of time (18+ years), effort and money that the plaintiffs have had to endure in this case to resolve this claim is offensive to the conscience. Such conditions demonstrate that the court system is also broken.]
The advisory committee in 2010, the Chief Justice explained, identified four needs for procedural reform, which would–
- Encourage greater cooperation among counsel,
- Focus discovery–the process of obtaining information within the control of the opposing party–on what is truly necessary to resolve the case,
- Engage judges in early and active case management, and
- Address serious new problems associated with vast amounts of electronically stored information.
The Chief Justice then described some of the changes brought by the amended FRCivP envision that the parties and the court work toward controlling the time and expense of litigation.
The Chief Justice explained that idea is contained within Rule 1 of the amended FRCivP, which provides that “the Federal Rules should be construed, administered, and employed by the court and the parties to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding.”
The Chief Justice noted that fulfillment of this goal can only occur with the willingness of the legal community to make it happen.
[Note 1: Judicial pay has increased for 2016. See Executive Order 13715, schedule 7) (https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/pay-executive-order-2016-adjustments-of-certain-rates-of-pay.pdf).
|Position||Pay in 2010-2013 (in dollars)||Pay in 2014 (in dollars)||Pay in 2015 (in dollars)||Pay in 2016 (in dollars)|
|Chief Justice of the United States||223,500||255,500||255,500||260,700|
|Associate Justices of the Supreme Court||213,900||244,400||244,400||249,300|
|Judges of the Court of International Trade||174,000||199,100||199,100||203,100|
In the appendix to the report, the Chief Justice provides and explanation of the workload of the judiciary. I will focus on the Supreme Court’s workload. Eight per curiam decisions were issued during this term in cases that were not argued.
|In forma pauperis||6846||7132||6627||6142||6576||6299||6160||6005||5808||5488|