Description of Circuit Dockets

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AnonDane
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Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby AnonDane » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:10 pm

I apologize if this exists somewhere, but as I've started looking into clerkships, I've heard that each circuit has a fairly unique breakdown in the types of cases it hears. For example, the 9th Circuit hears a ton of immigration and habeas cases, while the D.C. Circuit hears only about 1/4 criminal cases, but a lot of admin and national security cases. Also, there seems to be a huge variation in how often the circuits en banc (with the 9th as a huge outlier, obviously). I haven't been able to find a convenient source discussing the types of cases you're likely to encounter in each circuit -- but I think it would be helpful for me and for other applicants, particularly in answering the "Why here?" question in interviews.

If any one (particularly current CoA clerks) has any insight into this for all the different circuits, it would be much appreciated!
Last edited by AnonDane on Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:50 pm

Not a COA clerk, but I think the 5th would be similar to the 9th in terms of immigration cases. (I also had the impression any COA clerk is going to deal with a lot of habeas cases, but that may be wrong.)


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bruinfan10
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Re: Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby bruinfan10 » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:18 pm

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Last edited by bruinfan10 on Thu May 08, 2014 4:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:22 pm

nevdash wrote:http://www.uscourts.gov/Statistics/StatisticalTablesForTheFederalJudiciary/december-2012.aspx


You have to take these statistics with a grain of salt; they don't necessarily reflect what you will be working on as a law clerk. I've worked as a law clerk for two COA judges in different circuits -- each court had an extensive case screening process that involved staff attorneys resolving a fair number of the habeas/1983/Social Security/other run-of-the-mill type cases. That's not to say you'll never see a 2254 or 1983 appeal during your clerkship -- it's that a good chunk of the appeals aren't handled by law clerks, so the numbers will be a bit different for you.

EDIT: Oops -- I apparently cross-posted with the post above, but fully agree with what was said.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:24 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:While I think this is right, you'd be surprised how consistently the Circuits get immigration cases across the board. I'm working out of the Sixth right now, and the number of illegal reentry cases and subsequent appeals is shockingly high (for a "non-border" area). I'll be starting on the Eighth in a couple months, and the clerk who hired me for that job said they see a similarly high number of immigration cases. And Ninth and Fifth absolutely see a ton of them as well.

With regard to habeas, COA clerks actually see far less than the habeas proportion of the federal docket would lead you to believe. Any Circuit with staff attorneys normally farms those out to the staff attorney office, since they're generally routine denials, so COA clerks don't spend a ton of time working them up.

Also, just to add a couple "conventional wisdom" datapoints to what OP mentioned, you'd expect the Second Circuit to be heavy on securities cases, and you'd expect the Second and Ninth to be heavy on soft-IP cases (and I would imagine hard-IP, but that I don't know that for sure).

Good to know. I know that in my district, district court clerks didn't deal with habeas stuff either - it went to either the pro se/prisoner clerks (2 full time staff) or the magistrate clerks. I just wasn't sure how that played out for COA clerks. I guess I was thinking, more that, to the extent a COA clerk sees habeas stuff, it's going to be pretty constant across circuits. (Unless, of course, circuits vary in how much they farm it out to staff, but the court in general is going to see a lot of habeas anywhere.)

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Re: Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:49 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
bruinfan10 wrote:While I think this is right, you'd be surprised how consistently the Circuits get immigration cases across the board. I'm working out of the Sixth right now, and the number of illegal reentry cases and subsequent appeals is shockingly high (for a "non-border" area). I'll be starting on the Eighth in a couple months, and the clerk who hired me for that job said they see a similarly high number of immigration cases. And Ninth and Fifth absolutely see a ton of them as well.

With regard to habeas, COA clerks actually see far less than the habeas proportion of the federal docket would lead you to believe. Any Circuit with staff attorneys normally farms those out to the staff attorney office, since they're generally routine denials, so COA clerks don't spend a ton of time working them up.

Also, just to add a couple "conventional wisdom" datapoints to what OP mentioned, you'd expect the Second Circuit to be heavy on securities cases, and you'd expect the Second and Ninth to be heavy on soft-IP cases (and I would imagine hard-IP, but that I don't know that for sure).

Good to know. I know that in my district, district court clerks didn't deal with habeas stuff either - it went to either the pro se/prisoner clerks (2 full time staff) or the magistrate clerks. I just wasn't sure how that played out for COA clerks. I guess I was thinking, more that, to the extent a COA clerk sees habeas stuff, it's going to be pretty constant across circuits. (Unless, of course, circuits vary in how much they farm it out to staff, but the court in general is going to see a lot of habeas anywhere.)


In the 5th, most of the immigration stuff is being handled by the staff attorneys. That said, there are a lot of complex habeas cases in the 5th because of the death penalty in Texas. Plus plenty of federal criminal. On the civil side, everything you'd see in any other circuit (securities, CAFA, products liability, tax, etc.). And, of course, there's no hard IP outside of the Fed Circ.

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rpupkin
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Re: Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby rpupkin » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:19 am

bruinfan10 wrote:Also, just to add a couple "conventional wisdom" datapoints to what OP mentioned, you'd expect the Second Circuit to be heavy on securities cases, and you'd expect the Second and Ninth to be heavy on soft-IP cases (and I would imagine hard-IP, but that I don't know that for sure).

The Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction over all appeals from district court patent litigation, so none of the regional circuits see any hard IP cases.

As for soft-IP (by which I assume you mean copyright and trademark litigation), you're right that the Second and Ninth see more of those cases than the other regional circuits. Overall, though, it's not a significant part of their dockets.

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bruinfan10
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Re: Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby bruinfan10 » Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:56 am

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Last edited by bruinfan10 on Thu May 08, 2014 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Description of Circuit Dockets

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:38 pm

DC Circuit clerk here. (Anonymous to avoid identifying the chambers.) I just did a very informal review of the merits cases our chambers has heard so far this term. Here's a rough breakdown.

Roughly half our cases fall into the broad category of people suing the federal government. I would further divide that into three subcategories. The first and largest chunk is petitions for review of agency actions. Next largest is appeals from district court decisions in suits brought against federal agencies under the APA. Third and smallest is appeals from district court decisions in suits against the government under miscellaneous statutes and suits challenging the constitutionality of federal statutes.

Close to a third of our cases have been criminal appeals.

That leaves 1/6 still to go, which I'll divide between national security/GITMO and diversity jurisdiction (usually some kind of business dispute).

No traditional habeas (i.e., non-GITMO) because there are no prisons in D.C. And no immigration.




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