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PORTS WHERE HEARINGS ARE HELD
Judge Oliver. This chart I have here~ I do not know whether ou want it or not, represents the ports other than New York where earings will be held during the calendar year 1952.
Mr. ROONEY. It is of interest and will be inserted at this place in he record.
(The chart referred to is as follows:) Schedule of hearings of cases by the United States Customs Court at ports other than
the port of New York for the calendar year 1952
Jan. | Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
Schedule nf hearings of cases by the United States Customs Court at ports other than
the port of New York for the calendar year 1952—Continued
Judge OLIVER. We are asking for no additional personnel. There is an increase, as appears on the record on page 37, of $10,000. Of that $10,000 the sum of $6,035—more than half of it-is for the ordinary within-grade salary increases required by law and the balance, nearly $4,000, as set forth under various paragraphs on pages 43 and 44 of our justifications, is for miscellaneous expense items. These items are for increases in travel expenses, for additional dockets required because of the increase in cases being filed with us, and for certain other items of expense. As of December 31, 1951, there were pending a total of 132,943 cases.
NUMBER OF PLACES OF HOLDING COURT.
Mr. ROONEY. Your court holds sessions at how many places, as shown on the list inserted in the record?
Judge OLIVER. I might state for the record that while there are 45 calendar districts throughout the country, there are actually 290 ports of entry into which merchandise may be imported. Our court travels throughout the entire country and its possessions and we hold court at various ports of entry. This is due to the fact that merchandise can be shipped in bond from a coastal port of entry, or from the Canadian or Mexican borders to inland points. It can be shipped in bond through San Francisco, for example, to a port like Denver, Colo., and there you have a customs warehouse and customs collectors and appraisers. So that inland cities may be just as readily ports of entry for the purpose of litigation as the point where the boat comes in or the train crosses the border.
During the fiscal year 1951 we had dockets for 48 ports-other than the port of New York. The great majority of the business is at New York where the headquarters of the court is located.
Some cases may not involve large amounts of money, but in a $300 or $400 case there may be a decision covering thousands of cases and running into millions of dollars. It is not unusual in our court to have litigation involving 2 or 3 million dollars.
There is an important shark liver oil case which started in New York. We took testimony up near the Canadian border and then in San Francisco and then on the Mexican border. In that case they take the shark liver and extract from it the vitamin A. That, in recent years is of great importance. They may have thrown it overboard years ago but today it is of great value for its therapeutic value.
BACKLOG OF CASES
In 1951, as shown on page 41 of the justifications, there were filed th the court 10,722 new protests. The actual figure determined nce that was made up is 10,692, which is not a material difference, Mr. ROONEY. You are now talking of protests against classification cisions?
Judge OLIVER. Yes. And during the same period the figures that ppear in our justification as 14,966 appeals for reappraisement ctually should be 15,081 new cases added to the files of the court.
In addition to the foregoing there were a certain number of other ases such as, petitions for remission of additional duties but the najority of our litigation is protests where an importer protests the classification of the collector of customs at the port of entry.
I would like to go off the record for a minute, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. ROONEY. How many cases did you have pending at the close of fiscal year 1951?
Judge OLIVER. I have that broken down. As at the end of fiscal 1950, 114,345 cases were pending. At the end of fiscal 1951, 124,205 cases were pending and as of December 31, 1951, that is the 6-month period just ended, a total of 132,943 cases are pending.
Mr. ROONEY. How does the backlog of pending cases at the end of fiscal 1951, June 30, compare with the number of pending cases as of January 30, 1950?
Judge Oliver. Let me cover it this way. The chart which I have prepared for you shows at the end of fiscal 1949 there were pending, all
98,953. At the end of fiscal 1950 the total was 114,345. At the end of fiscal 1951, 124,205; and adding the first 6 months of fiscal 1952, the total was 132,943,
Mr. ROONEY. How do you account for this increasing backlog?
Judge OLIVER. There is a general increase in import business of approximately 27 percent over the same period of the previous year. World trade is increasing.
Mr. Rooney. Have many of these cases been pending quite a number of vears?
Judge OLIVER. That is a question that often comes up in the public press. The people complain of 2 or 3 years delay. "That is said by writers who are not familiar with the facts.
Off the record.
kinds of cases,
EXPLANATION OF INCREASED BACKLOG
Mr. Rooney. But why should that backlog be up to 132,000?
Judge OLIVER. A test case comes and entries come in on similar merchandise. Let us take a rubber ball. There are thousands of importations of these of various types and kinds. While this case is being tried, and pending a decision, and before this appeal to the court of appeals and their decision is finally given, these entries are coming in and are being suspended pending a final decision in the test case.
Then you are always entitled to apply for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. In our court, while we apply the doctrine of stare
decisis, we are controlled by the doctrine of res adjudicata. An inporter may always make up a new case where the facts warrant it
. Mr. ROONEY. Stare decisis and res judicata notwithstanding, we de not understand why there is such a tremendous number of pending cases.
Judge OLIVER. The breakdown shows how many cases are added and tried each year. Thousands of cases are added year after year involving many issues.
Mr. ROONEY. You have been carrying some of these cases for many years?
Judge OLIVER. Oh, no. That is not so. This does not mean that 98,000 back in 1948 are still there. It means they have been disponed of-thousands of them, but new cases have come in to take their place. It is a very busy court although we are anonymous to a great many people. The average lawyer does not know much about us.
And also in our court there is another angle very seldom understood. Ordinarily, in the United States district court with which we are to be compared because our appointment and salaries are the same, the litigation is different. In the district court you try a jury case and decision is rendered and you know that is one case decided. Thes have juries but few opinions are written. The jury's verdict decides the case.
In our court, every case tried requires an opinion to be written. All our opinions are not published in full. You will find them published in full or in abstract form in the weekly Treasury Decisions, They appear in permanent form in United States Customs Court reports published annually. The decisions of the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals appear in the same form.
Mr. ROONEY. Thank you very much, Judge Oliver. We are always glad to see you.
COURT OF CLAIMS
FRIDAY, JANUARY 11, 1952.
HON. MARVIN JONES, CHIEF JUDGE
SALARIES AND EXPENSES
Amounts available for obligation
1952 estimate 1953 estimate
Appropriation or estimate..
Total available for obligation
575,000 -48, 708
Mr. ROONEY. The next item, gentlemen, is that for the Court of Claims which appears on page 13 of the committee print and begins at page 45 of the justifications. At this point we shall insert in the record pages 46 and 47 of the justifications. (The pages referred to are as follows:)
Statement relating appropriation estimate to current appropriation 1952 appropriation in annual act.. Proposed supplemental 1952 due to pay increases.
Base for 1953..
Net difference, 1953 over 1952:
Salaries and expenses, exclusive of pay increase costs.
Total estimate for 1953..