Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



As the number of cases filed each year has surged, U.S. federal appellate courts have evolved in order to fulfill their core functions of deciding appeals and setting guiding precedent. Many of the challenges created by overwhelming caseloads are also being tackled in foreign judicial systems. In this Article, Judge Wallace offers the approach of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as a possible model of reform, although he also points out that each judiciary will need to tailor reform efforts to its particular circumstances. In Part II, Judge Wallace details several of the case management techniques that have proved most useful in the Ninth Circuit. Where possible, he also identifies appellate courts in other U.S. and foreign jurisdictions that have similar mechanisms in place. Part III considers in greater depth two particularly significant reforms: appellate level mediation and the appointment of an Appellate Commissioner. These reforms more fundamentally alter the conventional approach to appellate court adjudication.

Part IV briefly considers arguments that these reforms erode the quality of judicial decision-making. Judge Wallace concludes that increasing efficiency with streamlined case management and mediation mechanisms does not necessarily compromise core judicial principles.