How would you reduce the federal court caseload?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are a number of different ways that we might reduce the caseload of courts in the federal judicial system.  Different people can have different opinions as to which of these methods would be best.

We could reduce the number of actions that are deemed criminal by federal laws.  Many people believe, for example, that legalization of marijuana would help to reduce criminal caseloads.  So would decriminalization of possession of small amounts of other drugs.  Advocates of this approach argue that punishing these crimes does not really make our society any more secure.  If we stopped filling courts with such cases, caseload would drop.

We could make it less attractive for people to file civil suits, particularly against large companies.  Many people believe that courts are too willing to award huge damages in civil cases.  This makes more people want to file lawsuits at any opportunity in hopes of getting rich.  If there was less opportunity to make money through lawsuits, people would not file as many of them and caseload would be reduced.

We could also encourage people to settle their cases in a non-judicial setting.  We could set up systems of mediation and/or arbitration for disputes that are less complex or that do not involve important points of law.  This would take some of the pressure off the actual court system.

Finally, we could increase the number of judges.  If there are too many cases for the number of judges that we now have, it is logical to assume that increasing the number of judges would result in lower caseloads for any given judge.  We would not be reducing the number of cases tried, but we would be making them go more quickly because we would have more judges available to hear the cases.

Any or all of these could be seen as effective ways to reduce federal caseloads.  Which of them do you think is best? 

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