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Report No. 95

3.7. Views expressed by some judges in U.S.A.-

In U.S.A., two Supreme Court justices have urged the development of specialised courts as a way to deal with rising case loads.1

Noting that Texas and Oklahoma divide civil and criminal appeals in their highest courts and that a number of states separate intermediate appellate courts, Chief Justice Warren Burger said, "It is clear, therefore, that the concept of separate appellate jurisdiction is not an alien or subversive idea."

Any move towards more use of specialised courts must be carefully thought out. "But it must be thought about", he told those attending the Arthur T. Wanderbilt dinner in New York in November. He said that European countries had been using such courts, "widely and effectively" for centuries. Burger noted that, in the United States, most medical clinics and law firms assign patients or clients to doctors or lawyers with specialised experience. "If the advocates must be specialist", he asked, "can we wholly ignore the need for some specialisation in the judicial systems?"2

A already stated2, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor of the Supreme Court of U.S.A. (herself a former State Appellate Judge) would encourage specialisation. Speaking to the Council of Chief Justices of Courts of Appeal in Chicago, she said that she had found that the fields of criminal law, probate, tax, domestic relations and administrative law were particularly well suited for specialisation. When a judge has a particular expertise in an area or field of law, the judge, she said, can prepare for hearings with less time and can resolve issues more quickly, and perhaps better. At the same time, she added, "Most judges, including myself, prefer to maintain a diversity of subject-matter jurisdiction".

1. Report, Speciality Courts in (January 1983) 69 ABAJ 23.

2. Report, Speciality court in (January 1983) 69 ABAJ 23.

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