Federal Courts:

Determining the Need for Additional Judges

GGD-87-26BR: Published: Jan 8, 1987. Publicly Released: Jan 21, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the criteria the Judicial Conference of the United States uses to recommend that Congress add judgeship positions for U.S. district, appeals, and bankruptcy courts to determine whether the caseload criteria adequately measured the judges' increasing work loads.

GAO noted that the number of cases filed in a year in federal district courts increased between 1980 and 1985 by 58.7 percent. GAO found that the Conference: (1) determines biennially whether the courts need additional judges through surveys and caseload evaluations; (2) determines that a court may need additional judges if its caseload exceeds 400 cases per judge; (3) considers a court's pending caseload and any unusual logistical problems within its district when determining whether it needs additional judges; and (4) directed the Federal Judicial Center to determine the feasibility of developing a more comprehensive caseload measure for the district courts that would consider factors that the present method does not.

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