April 11, 1997 HyperLaw, Inc.®

What Can you Do to Express Your Views Concerning the Adoption of the ABA Citation Proposal by the Federal Judiciary 1.0



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What Can you Do to Express Your Views Concerning the Adoption of the ABA Citation Proposal by the Federal Judiciary 1.0

What can you do to express your views concerning the adoption of the ABA Citation Proposal by the Federal Judiciary?

A very similar proposal was considered by the Judicial Conference in 1992, after being recommended by the Automation Committee. A review of the responses to the AO survey shows that many judges are opposed and that many judges may not understand the proposal. It is clear that this proposal must be fairly explained to the federal judges, or else the 1997 proposal will face a similar rejection. The full Judicial Conference will consider the proposal in September, 1997.

The Automation Committee has not indicated that it will accept further comments -- however, there seems to be nothing improper about communicating with individual judges and court clerks. West has always done this.

What will get the attention of the Judges

It is first necessary to grab the attention of the judges. Many of the judges appear to believe there is no problem with the present system and have little understanding of the proposal or its purposes. Following are suggestions as to grabbing their attention.

1. Communications from federal litigators in their own jurisdictions.
2. Communications from professional colleagues from their prior careers.
3. Communications with federal bar association, nationally and local (Federal Bar Councils).
4. Communications from other bar associations.
5. Communications from judges in other jurisdictions that use paragraph or sequence numbering of opinions.
6. Communications from students and educators from non-law schools, like high schools and community colleges who want access to court opinions.
6. Editorials in local press.
7. Communications from members of Congress that helped them become judges or who may help them move from a district to an appellate court or from a magistrate to a judge.
8. Communications from members of Congressional committees that are handling matters of importance to the judiciary.

The last category is very important. The Judiciary is in a constant battle for its budget. Many in Congress are aware of the public interest in access to government information. Many judges seem to feel that the Court has little or no responsibility to make sure its opinions are available to the general public and to provide a court citation.

For example, there are pending proposals to increase judges' compensation.

In the House, there is H.R. 875 by Representatives Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) and John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), and in the Senate, S. 394, by Senators Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Lauch Faircloth (R-NC).

Another matter of importance to the judiciary if funding for federal court houses, such as those in Laredo, Texas, Jacksonville, Florida, Greenville, Tennesses, Savanah, Georgia, Wheeling, West Virginia, and Denver, Colorado.

One of the problem committees holding up the courthouses is the House Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Economic Development.

It is interesting that a courthouse in Texas is being held up now, especially when one reads the largely hostile comments by a number of district court judges from Texas. It may help for the judges to understand that the people paying for the courthouses where the opinions are being written would like to get a little back.

It is also interesting that the chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Security, Space and Facilities is Judge John R. Gibson of the Eighth Circuit. Perhaps Judge Gibson may wish to counsel the clerk of his court who appears to be leading the charge against this proposal and who wrote in his comments to the Automation Committee:

Our experience since we first addressed this issue has confirmed our belief that an alternative citation system based on sequential opinion number is not needed in the federal courts. Neither attorneys practicing in our courts nor judges researching and writing opinions have expressed the view that the current system of citation based on case number, date of issuance and court hinders their use or citation of federal court opinions. Likewise, no judge or attorney has ever expressed to any of us any desire to adopt a citation system such as the one proposed in the ABA resolution. In our opinion, the proposal to create a citation system based on sequential opinion numbers is a solution in search of a problem.
Letter dated March 14, 1997 from Michael E. Gans, Clerk of the Court, United States Court of Appeals, For the Eighth Circuit, Appellate Court Clerk's Advisory Committee,

Watch this web site and this page http:\\www.hyperlaw.com\whattodo.htm for further information. This page will be updated as further information is obtained.

In general it would be appropriate to send copies of letters to at least one member of congress, at least one judge on the Judicial Conference, a member of the press, and copied for placement on internet WEB sites.