Faculty Publications


Applied Freakonomics: Explaining the "Crisis of Volume"

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"Beginning in the 1960s and continuing for the next three decades, nearly everyone affiliated with appellate courts judges, lawyers, litigants, legislators, experts, and scholars were all shouting, "The sky 3is falling!" and insisting that judges should run for their lives. This was particularly true of the United States Courts of Appeals. A series of commissions, committees, study groups, conferences, and symposia predicted that the rapidly increasing number of cases was about to overwhelm the federal appellate court system and that only radical structural reforms could save it.

Over the last ten years or so, however, the doomsday clamor has died away and the sense of urgency has disappeared. But the caseload did not subside-appellate demand did not decline. Indeed, it continued to grow apace. Furthermore, there was no radical structural reform. Yet, today the courts of appeals are not hopelessly backlogged. There is no panicky sense of being overwhelmed. Everything seems to be "business as usual," at least on the surface"...