Inside Appellate Courts is a comprehensive study of how the organization of a court affects the decisions of appellate judges. Drawing on interviews with more than seventy federal appellate judges and law clerks, Jonathan M. Cohen challenges the assumption that increasing caseloads and bureaucratization have impinged on judges’ abilities to bestow justice. By viewing the courts of appeals as large-scale organizations, Inside Appellate Courts shows how courts have walked the tightrope between justice and efficiency to increase the number of cases they decide without sacrificing their ability to dispense a high level of justice.
Cohen theorizes that, like large corporations, the courts must overcome the critical tension between the autonomy of the judges and their interdependence and coordination. However, unlike corporations, courts lack a central office to coordinate the balance between independence and interdependence. Cohen investigates how courts have dealt with this tension by examining topics such as the role of law clerks, methods of communication between judges, the effect of a court’s size and geographic location, the role of argumentation, the use of visiting judges, the significance of the increasing use of unpublished decisions, and the nature and role of court culture.
Inside Appellate Courts offers the first comprehensive organizational study of the appellate judicial process. It will be of interest to the social scientist studying organizations, the sociology of law, and comparative dispute resolution and have a wide appeal to the legal audience, especially practicing lawyers, legal scholars, and judges.
Jonathan M. Cohen is Attorney at Gilbert, Heintz, and Randolph LLP.