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HEARINGS CONDUCTED BY THE SUBCOMMITTEE, MESSRS. LOUIS
C. RABAUT (CHAIRMAN), JOHN H. KERR, BUTLER B. HARE, THOMAS J. O'BRIEN, KARL STEFAN, ROBERT F. JONES, AND DEAN M. GILLESPIE, OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, IN CHARGE OF THE DEPARTMENTS OF STATE, JUSTICE, COMMERCE, AND JUDICIAL APPROPRIATION BILL, 1946, ON THE DAYS FOLLOWING:
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1945.
UNITED STATES COURTS
STATEMENTS OF HON D. LAWRENCE GRONER, CHIEF JUSTICE OF
THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA; HON. HAROLD M. STEPHENS AND HON. JUSTIN MILLER, JUSTICES OF THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA; HON. JOHN BIGGS, JR., SENIOR UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE, THIRD CIRCUIT; HON. ALBERT B. MARIS, UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE, THIRD CIRCUIT; HON. JOHN J. PARKER, SENIOR UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE, FOURTH CIRCUIT; HON. JOHN C. KNOX,
, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRCIT JUDGE, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK; HENRY P. CHANDLER, DIRECTOR, ELMORE WHITEHURST, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR; WILL SHAFROTH, CHIEF OF THE DIVISION OF PROCEDURAL STUDIES AND STATISTICS; LEWIS GROUT, CHIEF OF THE PROBATION DIVISION; JOHN C. BROWN, BUDGET OFFICER; DARWIN H. ANDERSON, ASSISTANT BUDGET OFFICER, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS; JAMES V. BENNETT, DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF PRISONS, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. RABAUT. We have before us this morning Mr. Chandler, of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. With him are some of the able members of his staff, and Judge Knox from New York. At this time we will be pleased to have a general statement from the Director.
STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY P. CHANDLER, DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS
Mr. CHANDLER. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the subcommittee: With your permission I shall report briefly on the state of the business and a few of the more important developments in the work of the Federal courts in the last year.
THE TREND OF THE JUDICIAL BUSINESS
The general level of cases brought in the district courts in the fiscal year 1944 ended June 30 last-hereafter in speaking of years I shall
I refer to fiscal years---rose slightly: civil cases, 4.6 percent, and criminal cases, 8.3 percent. Bankruptcy cases continued to fall sharply, going down 44 percent as compared with 33% percent the year before. . That is due, of course, to the general prosperity of the country. Figures for the first half of 1945 show a sharplv accentuated increase in new civil cases of a third as compared with the corresponding period last year and a virtually stationary volume of criminal cases. Bankruptcy cases showed a further drop of 40 percent from the already low volume of last year.
It is a continued rise in Government cases which accounts for the increase in civil cases, because private civil cases are keeping virtually on a level. And the increase in Government cases is due almost altogether to cases of price and rationing regulations. New condemnation cases dropped 45 percent and are back at about the prewar level of 1941. But price and rationing cases trebled in 1944 and amounted to more than 17 percent of all civil cases filed. The rise in such cases was even more marked in the first half of 1945, in which the number brought was more than four times, the number in the first half of 1944.
I have here and will leave with the members of the committee, a chart which shows graphically, and rather clearly, the trend in the civil business in recent years, in fact, since June 30, 1940.
The heavy black line at the top shows the total civil cases, and you will notice that after staying about on a level, they are now going up very sharply; the next line shows the United States cases, and the United States cases also, after standing about on a level until 1944, are also going up very sharply; in fact, it is the increase in United States cases that sends the total up. United States cases, apart from price and rationing cases, are tending slightly downward. Private cases, after dropping until 1943, are now standing about on a level, going down slightly. Condemnation cases, which are the next to the last heavy line, went up until 1943, since have gone down, and are now just about where they were in the beginning prior to the war. And the Price Administration cases, which began in 1942, have shown a sharp rise, which is continuing. It is the increase in these cases that is accounting for the present increase in the civil business of the United States courts.
In criminal cases brought in 1944, prosecutions for violations of the Federal liquor laws which had been tending downward, went up a little over 4 percent. Selective-service cases went down nearly 15 percent, and prosecutions for violations of price-control and rationing regulations nearly doubled.
THE CONDITION OF THE CALENDARS
Termination by the courts in 1944 kept substantially abreast of the large number of cases filed. Cases pending in the courts of appeals rose slightly, about 2 percent, and civil cases pending in the district courts about 5 percent. Criminal cases pending, notwithstanding the increase in the number of such cases filed, went down. nearly 7 percent. Pending bankruptcy cases were reduced nearly 30 percent, and for the first time in more than 30 years fell below 30,000.
Mr. RABAUT. That is due to the general condition of the country? : Mr. CHANDLER. Yes.
Selective-service cases present a striking contrast with the First World War. In 3 years during and after that war, 1917, 1918, and 1919, there were 27,352 prosecutions. In this war in the 3 years, 1942, 1943, and 1944, notwithstanding the greatly increased number of men under arms, the number of defendants indicted was 17,971, nearly 10,000 less than in the First World War in a comparable period. In one year, 1920, after the last war-well after the armistice—there were more than 20,000 prosecutions, substantially more than in 3 years of the present war.
A main reason for the difference is undoubtedly the effort in which all the Government agencies concerned, the courts, the United States attorneys, and the probation officers, have cooperated in the present war to induce defendants to accept their obligations to defend the country, and to go, though late, into the armed forces instead of to prison.
Mr. KERR. You attribute that decrease to the contact made by the officers with these men?
Mr. CHANDLER. That is right; the Department of Justice, through its attorneys, has been pursuing what I regard as a wise policy in this matter.
Another comparison with the last war is significant. Of the more than 47,000 prosecutions in the First World War, the cases of over 28,000 defendants, or nearly 60 percent, remained undisposed of on July 1, 1920, more than a year and a half after the armistice. In this war, of 17,774 persons against whom prosecutions were begun in the 84 districts in the States exclusive of the District of Columbia, in the 3 years 1942, 1943, and 1944, the cases of all but something over 2,000, about 13 percent, had been disposed of on June 30, 1944. In other words, there has been rather prompt disposition of the cases.
EFFECT OF THE WAR ON THE SUPPORTING PERSONNEL OF THE COURTS
The committee on requests for occupational deferment of supporting personnel of the courts, appointed by the Chief Justice under the law of April 8, 1943, consisting of Chief Justice Lawrence D. Groner of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, chairman, Circuit Judge Herbert F. Goodrich of Philadelphia, and District Judge William C. Coleman of Maryland, from the beginning adopted a strict policy of not making requests for deferments except in very exceptional cases, and then only for a short time to enable the court to adjust itself to the situation. In consequence, as of a recent date, January 15, 1945, when the data were reviewed, it appeared that there were only 20 occupational deferments in force among the classes of court personnel, of which the administrative office has a reasonably exact record, numbering around 1,950 persons. To my best information, all or virtually all of the 20 existing deferments relate to persons upward of 30
Naturally the temporary loss to the armed services of many of their strongest personnel has put a strain upon the courts. They have met it as best they could and gladly, as was due. The impact has been especially heavy upon those branches of the court personnel containing a high proportion of men of military age. Of probation officers, 64, or 26 percent, are in the armed services. In the Administrative Office 29 men and 1 woman have been inducted, the number of men being 74 percent of the present male personnel of the office.
Nr. KERR. How are you making replacements?
Mr. CHANDLER. Of course, when men go into the armed services, we do one of two things: we try to make a temporary replacement, or we assign the work to other members of the staff. We, in part, follow both methods. Because of difficulty in making replacements we have not filled all the vacancies by any means. Those who remain have to work longer hours.
TEMPORARY ASSIGNMENT OF JUDGES FOR JUDICIAL DUTIES OUTSIDE OF THEIR
There has been continued and increasing use of the law which permits the Chief Justice to assign circuit and district judges outside their circuits to assist temporarily courts which are overburdened. In 1944, 5 circuit judges were so assigned to sit in the courts of appeals of other circuits, 3 in the third circuit in Phildaelphia and 2 in the District of Columbia. Twenty-nine judges were assigned to sit in the district courts of other circuits, 7 in the southern district of New York, 4 in the district of New Jersey, in Newark, 3 in the eastern district of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, 1 in the eastern district of Texas, and 14 in the District of Columbia. Already in 1945, with the year less than two-thirds spent, 5 circuit judges have been assigned to sit in courts of appeals of other circuits, and 23 judges to sit in district courts of other circuits, with a distribution not very different from that of 1944.
Mr. RABAUT. Have you got a figure on the judges retired, how much service they are rendering?
Mr. CHANDLER. I can tell you offhand. At the present time judges who are retired are not rendering any very large amount of service. Judge Northcutt, in the fourth circuit, sits on the court of appeals in that circuit part of the time; Judge Kennamer, of the northern district of Oklahoma, sits some in his own district; Circuit Judge Williams, of the tenth circuit, sat for a number of months in the last 2 or 3 years in the eastern district of Texas,
Mr. RABAUT. Will you supply the rest of that at this point in the record ?
Mr. CHANDLER. I will do that.
RETIRED JUDGES RENDERING JUDICIAL SERVICE
Hon. Elliott Northcott, circuit judge, fourth circuit.
The Judicial Conference of Senior Circuit Judges continues to take an active interest in the use of pretrial procedure in the district courts and to encourage it in all proper ways. This method, by which the judge, in conference with the attorneys in advance of the trial, endeavors to eliminate extraneous and unnecessary issues and reduce the controversy to be tried to bedrock, tends to shorten the trial and save the time of witnesses, parties, jurors, and all concerned. A committee of the Judicial Conference consisting of_Circuit Judge John J. Parker, of North Carolina, chairman, Circuit Judge Alfred P. Murrah, of Oklahoma, District Judge Paul J. McCormick, of Southern California, and Justice Bolitha J. Laws, of the District of Columbia, who has been nominated for Chief Justice of the District Court of the District of Columbia, after an intensive study last year, had this to say about the present use of the method in the Federal courts:
It appears that pretrial procedure is used in practically all civil cases which reach the trial stage in at least 22 Federal district courts. In 10 others, one or more judges in the district use it in virtually all cases on their individual calendars. In all but a very few of the remainder, conferences are held, more or less frequently, on the request of counsel for one or both parties, or in selected cases on the court's own motion.
Mr. RABAUT. Personally, I think it saves a good deal of work and will save a great deal of money if they will use it.
Mr. GILLESPIE. They don't keep a record of those, do they?
Mr. CHANDLER. We are trying to have a record kept. Because the conferences are frequently held in chambers and are informal, they are not always shown on the record of the case. Our office has requested, in order that there may be definite knowledge of the use of the practice, that whenever a conference has been held, it be shown on the record, and we are hopeful that in the current year, 1945, we shall have a reasonably accurate record, by the end of the year, of the number of those conferences.
Mr. KERR. If you kept those records, it would be necessary to have a court stenographer.
Mr. CHANDLER. We really ought to have a court stenographer;
Mr. RABAUT. Off the record. (Discussion off the record.)
Mr. CHANDLER. The report makes available, for all courts disposed to use pretrial procedure, the experience of other districts throughout the country with particular techniques, their advantages and disadvantages. It recommends that the practice be made a part of the normal procedure of the courts in most civil cases. In one circuit, the tenth, impetus was given to the policy at the last circuit conference by a demonstration in actual cases, conducted by judges who were members of the conference, and the regular attorneys in the cases.
In these and other ways, attention to pretrial procedure in the Federal courts is being maintained, and it is believed that the gain in the effective dispatch of business, already evident in many districts, will increase as time goes on.