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SCOTUS is often ‘simply irrelevant’ to daily work of trial courts, federal judge says

Posted Apr 25, 2013 6:25 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf of Nebraska isn’t afraid to criticize the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sometimes the court “can really screw things up,” Kopf writes at his blog Hercules and the Umpire. As an example, he offers the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Booker, which effectively made the federal sentencing guidelines advisory. “If haphazardly injecting chaos into a system is a good thing, the Supreme Court is very good at that,” Kopf writes.

But much of the Supreme Court’s work “is simply irrelevant to what federal trial judges do on a daily basis,” Kopf says. One example: The 1993 decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals requiring adequate foundation for expert opinions “was supposed to be a big deal,” Kopf says. But in reality, there was “little or no change in what was actually going on in most federal trial courts” after the decision.

A 2007 decision on pleading standards in civil lawsuits, Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, resulted in “a similar shrug,” Kopf wrote. “Prior to Twombly, most of the time, the goofy cases got weeded out,” Kopf wrote. “Same, same after Twombly.”

“In short,” Kopf concludes, “while the Supreme Court may exist at the ‘center of the universe,’ it frequently plies its trade in a ‘galaxy far, far away.’ ”

Hat tip to How Appealing.

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