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Old 11-08-2019, 05:20 PM
KidCharlemagne is offline
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How secure is the selection process for which judge hears a case?


With all the important court cases surrounding the Trump administration, I'm curious as to how secure the federal judge selection process is. I'm guessing it's done via computer rng but are there extraordinary steps taken against hacking or other means of manipulating the outcome? Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-09-2019, 08:45 AM
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Unsure of what you're asking. The process of appointing a judge is perfectly transparent, with public hearings. The reasoning for the choice of a particular judge is mentioned when he or she is appointed. The internal discussion of names is not announced, but it's not a particular secret.

Trials are public and jury deliberations are face-to-face.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:39 AM
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Unsure of what you're asking. The process of appointing a judge is perfectly transparent, with public hearings. The reasoning for the choice of a particular judge is mentioned when he or she is appointed. The internal discussion of names is not announced, but it's not a particular secret.

Trials are public and jury deliberations are face-to-face.
I don't think the OP is talking about appointing a judge to the bench - the question is how a particular case is assigned to a particular judge , and whether the assignment process is vulnerable to "judge shopping".
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:49 AM
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Oh, and don't assume it's a random number generator - I've worked in two different jobs with administrative hearings , and in both jobs, cases were assigned to judges based on which judge(s) were assigned to intake on the day of the first court appearance.
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Old 11-09-2019, 05:22 PM
KidCharlemagne is offline
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Oh, and don't assume it's a random number generator - I've worked in two different jobs with administrative hearings , and in both jobs, cases were assigned to judges based on which judge(s) were assigned to intake on the day of the first court appearance.
You are correct on the interpretation of my question. How are judge assignations for any given day made? I find it hard to believe that judge assignations of history-altering federal cases could be manipulated by Right-wing Rhonda, the court clerk.
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Old 11-09-2019, 06:01 PM
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You are correct on the interpretation of my question. How are judge assignations for any given day made? I find it hard to believe that judge assignations of history-altering federal cases could be manipulated by Right-wing Rhonda, the court clerk.
I don't know the American system, but in other common law systems listing is a judicial function, i.e. the a senior judge would have overview over which cases are assigned to which judge. Assigning and scheduling cases is quite an involved job, so assignments may be done by legal or administrative staff under the supervision of the judge, but for the most high profile cases the senir judge would assign the case directly.
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Old 11-10-2019, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doreen View Post
I don't think the OP is talking about appointing a judge to the bench - the question is how a particular case is assigned to a particular judge , and whether the assignment process is vulnerable to "judge shopping".
Quote:
Originally Posted by doreen View Post
Oh, and don't assume it's a random number generator - I've worked in two different jobs with administrative hearings , and in both jobs, cases were assigned to judges based on which judge(s) were assigned to intake on the day of the first court appearance.
In my experience, Doreen is quite accurate -- Judges are assigned as the 'intake' judge on specific days, and the cases coming in are assigned to them. (And generally, they try to keep cases with the same judge all the way through.) There are often separate intake judges for various classes of cases: juvenile court cases, traffic (mostly DUI) cases, marital (divorce, child custody, support) cases, drug court, major felony cases, etc.

And 'Judge shopping' is a real thing. Experienced lawyers know the biases of judges, and which ones will be more susceptible to the circumstances of the particular defendant & the crime. So they make efforts to get the case assigned to that particular judge. By negotiating with the prosecutor to delay when the case is filed until he is the intake judge. By asking for delays that will cause it to be assigned to a different judge. They can openly do it by asking a particular judge to remove himself from the case. But doing that too often will get that judge, and maybe others, rather annoyed with the lawyer.
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Old Yesterday, 03:32 PM
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In downstate New York, the procedure varies by court and type of case.

Since your question is about federal court, the separate Rules for Division of Business among District Judges in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan, Staten Island, The Bronx and near Downstate Counties) and the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island) are listed in their Joint Local Rules (.pdf file).

The Southern District's rules provide that the "Each civil and criminal action and proceeding, except as otherwise provided, shall be assigned by lot to one judge for all purposes." I'm not sure how they do it now, particularly with electronically filed cases, but I have a vague recollection from years ago when I was filing a case that they had a large rotating container, similar to the rotating cage that bingo balls are pulled from, from which they pulled out a card with a judge's name.

The Eastern District's rules provide a bit more: "All cases shall be randomly assigned by the clerk or his designee in public view in one of the clerk's offices in such a manner that each active judge shall receive as nearly as possible the same number of cases, except as provided in paragraph (h). Where a party or his counsel requests prior to selection that he or she be present at the selection, the clerk shall make reasonable efforts to comply with the request." I've never actually seen how they do it (or requested to be present) in the Eastern District, but I assume it would be by a similar random "wheel."

Both District's rules have provisions for which courthouse location a case is to be assigned to, when a case may be transferred between judges, and, most significantly, when related cases are to be assigned to the same judge.

In the New York state courts, it varies significantly by court and type of case. Cases in Supreme Court (the trial court of general jurisdiction where most larger and more significant cases are heard) are assigned to a single judge when a party files a "Request for Judicial Intervention" (RJI), the form that one files the first time a party needs a judge to do something like hear a motion or hold a conference. The Supreme Court in most counties assigns cases to different judges or groups of judges based on the type of case, and then randomly choose a judge among those designated for that type of case.

For instance, in Manhattan (which is probably the most complex assignment system), the Supreme Court's procedures provide:

Quote:
The court currently operates the following principal Parts: (a) Tax Certiorari (b) Condemnation; (c) City; (d) Transit; (e) Matrimonial; (f) Motor Vehicle; (g) Medical, Dental and Podiatric Malpractice; (h) Mass Tort (Center for Complex Litigation); (i) Article 81; (j) General Assignment; (k) Commercial Division; (i) Mortgage Foreclosure; and (m) Trial Parts.

Justices are assigned to the various parts by the Administrative Judge. Upon the filing of an RJI, cases are identified by action type and then assigned at random by the computer to a Justice from among those designated to handle cases of that type.
In lower level courts, some cases are heard by whatever judge happens to be assigned to the courtroom on the particular day the case is scheduled for, and it may be a different judge for each appearance. Other courts assign each case to a particular "Part," and a judge is assigned to preside over that part for a time period, but the judges are periodically rotated among the Parts. And there are numerous other variations among the different courts.
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Old Yesterday, 07:37 PM
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I am insanely curious about two specific examples.
1. What was the exact procedure used to pick the judge for Paul Manafort?
2. What was the exact procedure used to pick the judge for Roger stone?
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