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New York’s Northern District Is Top Federal Court for Trial and Bench Productivity

Posted Feb 28, 2012 11:36 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal judge who laments the decrease in federal jury trials hopes to publicize the issue with a new productivity ranking of federal courts.

U.S. District Judge William Young says traditional productivity rankings provide an incentive to reduce trial dockets, according to Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites blog. At a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the Massachusetts judge defended trial by jury and passed out his own productivity ranking—this one based on hours spent by judges on the bench and in trial.

Young’s ranking (PDF posted by LawSites), which covers the top third of the district courts in 2010, puts these courts on top:

1) New York’s Northern District

2) California’s Eastern District

3) Florida’s Southern District

4) New York’s Eastern District

5) Iowa’s Southern District and Tennessee’s Eastern District (tied)

Young elaborated on his theme in a 2011 opinion (PDF). “Today the mantra is judicial management: management and more management,” Young wrote. “We assiduously measure district court efficiency and yearly rank all 94 district courts against these measures. … Yet nowhere do we publicly measure actual productivity—the core work of the federal district judge, going out on the bench and actually trying our cases and engaging with litigants and the bar in the actual adjudicative process.”

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