Monday, August 18, 2008

Why Federal Courts . . . Part 4

Part 4, Justification #2- Federal Judges Are Overworked and Can Dispense With Cases Faster If They Are Unpublished and Non-Precedential

Read Justification #1

This argument posed by the late Judge Becker and his academic supporters can be viewed in full in “Controversial Cases Disappear”, CORPORATE LEGAL TIMES, November 1999, Vol 9. No.96. The late Judge Becker felt that as long as the court offered some explanation for the decision to the parties; it was otherwise fine for a case to be non-precedential because it relieved the court’s work load. The notion of speed of adjudication was supported by an Assistant Professor of Law at Auburn University, who cited a study that concluded that unpublished decisions speeded the resolution of cases. He stated in Corporate Legal Times Article: ‘“If justice is delayed justice is denied, then the limited publication rules do reduce the delay and denial of justice”…’

Both arguments demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of the common law. Precedential impact is important because at the very least it is a check on inconsistent judicial behavior. If a case is clear, undisputed then it should be a simple matter to describe the facts, the applicable law and the result, such that similarly situated parties are treated the same.

One could just imagine Vinny Gambini’s (My Cousin Vinny) response to these assertions applied to facts in the Anastasoff case that concerned Judge Arnold (Part 1): “ Are you telling me that plaintiff A, who mailed her tax refund at the same time as plaintiff B, before the deadline date and both refunds were received by the IRS after the deadline date, that A is not entitled to a judicial ruling that the IRS was compelled to honor the refund even though B got such a ruling because B’s ruling was non-precedential? Judge Becker says it’s OK because we explained the ruling to A—‘B’s decision was not precedential’ and the Auburn Professor says it was fast—therefore A got justice!”

I am done with this one!


-Larry Salibra
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