Summary: H.R.4807 — 100th Congress (1987-1988)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (10/14/1988)

(Measure passed Senate, amended)

Judicial Improvements and Access to Justice Act - Title I: Federal Courts Study Committee - Federal Courts Study Act - Establishes within the Judicial Conference of the United States the Federal Courts Study Committee on the future of the Federal Judiciary.

Describes the purposes, membership, and powers of the Commission.

Directs the Committee to: (1) conduct a study of both Federal and State courts; (2) report on such study to the President, the Judicial Conference of the United States, the State Justice Institute, the Chief Justice of the United States, the Conference of Chief Justices, and the Congress within 15 months after the effective date of this title; (3) recommend revisions to the laws of the United States; and (4) develop a long-range plan for the judicial system.

Terminates the Committee 60 days following submission of its required report.

Authorizes FY 1989 through 1990 appropriations.

Title II: Federal Jurisdiction - Diversity Reform - Increases from $10,000 to $50,000 the amount in controversy required as a basis for Federal district court jurisdiction.

Amends diversity provisions with respect to the status of representative parties and permanent resident aliens.

Title III: Federal Judicial Center - Amends the Federal judicial code to establish the Federal Judicial Center Foundation as a nonprofit corporation to accept gifts of real and personal property and services made for the purpose of aiding or facilitating the work of the Federal Judicial Center. Authorizes the Federal Judicial Center to administer and use the gifts received by the Foundation.

Requires gifts of money and proceeds from the sale of property received as gifts to be deposited in a separate fund in the Treasury.

Requires the Foundation to submit annual reports to specified congressional committees with respect to the gifts received.

Grants the Federal Judicial Center authority to: (1) implement programs to collect, preserve, and make available materials relating to the history of the judicial branch of the Government; and (2) provide training for persons outside the judicial branch.

Provides for the appointment of the Deputy Director of the Federal Judicial Center.

Title IV: Rules Enabling Act - Amends the Federal judicial code with respect to the Supreme Court's power to prescribe Federal rules of civil procedure, including bankruptcy rules. Grants the Supreme Court power to prescribe rules of evidence. (Currently, the Supreme Court has the power to prescribe amendments to rules of evidence promulgated by the Congress.)

Authorizes the Judicial Conference of the United States to appoint committees to recommend Federal rules of practice, procedure, and evidence. Directs the Judicial Conference to appoint a standing committee on rules of practice, procedure, and evidence to review all committee recommendations. Sets forth procedures for the consideration of proposed rules.

Requires the Judicial Conference to: (1) compile rules and orders with regard to procedures dealing with judicial discipline; and (2) review procedural rules for consistency with Federal law.

Requires each judicial council to review certain district court rules for consistency with rules prescribed by the Supreme Court. Authorizes each council to modify or abrogate any rule found to be inconsistent.

Amends the Federal criminal code to rescind the power of the Supreme Court to prescribe rules of criminal practice and procedure for: (1) trials held by magistrates; and (2) appeals to district courts from magistrate-held trials.

Title V: Jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit - Grants to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit exclusive jurisdiction of appeals for the Federal Circuit exclusive jurisdiction of appeals from district court interlocutory orders granting or denying a motion to transfer an action to the U.S. Claims Court to cure want of jurisdiction.

Title VI: State Justice Institute Amendments - Amends the State Justice Institute Act of 1984 with respect to procedural matters. Authorizes appropriations.

Title VII: Court Interpreters Amendments - Court Interpreter Amendments Act of 1988 - Requires the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to establish a program to facilitate the use of certified and otherwise qualified interpreters in judicial proceedings instituted by the United States.

Requires the Director to certify interpreters for the hearing impaired and persons who speak only or primarily a language other than English. Instructs the Director to certify interpreters: (1) for any language for which the need exists; or (2) upon request of the Judicial Conference of the United States or the judicial council of a circuit and approval of the Judicial Conference.

Bases certification on the results of criterion-referenced performance examinations.

Requires the Director to establish criteria for the selection of otherwise qualified interpreters: (1) in languages for which no interpreters have been certified; and (2) when no certified interpreter is reasonably available.

Requires the Director to maintain a list of all certified interpreters. Calls for periodic, rather than annual, reporting in connection with the use and performance of interpreters. Requires the clerk or district executive of a court to secure the services of interpreters for proceedings initiated by the United States.

Directs the presiding judicial official, upon the motion of any party, to determine whether to require electronic sound recording of judicial proceedings in which an interpreter is used. Describes criteria to be considered when making the determination. Requires the portions of grand jury proceedings in which an interpreter is used to be electronically sound recorded if the accused so moves.

Authorizes appropriations for the establishment of such program.

Title VIII: Jury Selection and Service - Amends the Federal judicial code with respect to the temporary excuse of prospective jurors and jury selection procedures. Permits volunteer safety personnel (fire fighters or members of a rescue squad or ambulance crew) to be excused from jury service, upon individual request.

Authorizes the Judicial Conference of the United States to develop a system for qualifying and summoning jurors in a single procedure, rather than in two separate ones. Authorizes the system to be implemented on an experimental basis in up to ten district courts, for up to a two-year period.

Title IX: Arbitration - Amends the Federal Rules of Procedure to empower, on an experimental basis, specified U.S. district courts to authorize the use of arbitration. Permits such courts to: (1) allow arbitration when the parties consent; and (2) require arbitration when the relief sought consists only of money damages of $100,000 or less.

Disallows referrals to arbitration in actions based on an alleged violation of a right secured by the Constitution.

Directs district courts to establish by local rule procedures for exempting cases from arbitration because of complex legal issues or for other good cause.

Grants arbitrators the power to: (1) conduct arbitration hearings; (2) administer oaths and affirmations; and (3) make awards.

Provides that the arbitration award shall be filed with the clerk of the district court and entered as the judgment of the court after 30 days. States that such judgment shall not be subject to review in any court of appeal.

Directs district courts to provide by local rule that the contents of any arbitration award shall not be made known to any judge who might be assigned to the case, except under specified circumstances.

Allows any party, within 30 days after the filing of an arbitration award, to demand a trial de novo in the district court.

Requires specified district courts to establish standards for the certification of arbitrators and to certify them. Empowers these courts to establish the amount of compensation that each receives.

Authorizes the Judicial Conference of the United States to develop model rules for arbitration procedures.

Requires the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to include in the annual report on Administrative Office activities statistical information regarding the implementation of this title.

Directs the Federal Judicial Center to submit to the Congress a report on the implementation of this title.

Authorizes appropriations.

Repeals the arbitration authorization of this title five years after this Act's enactment.

Title X: Miscellaneous Provisions - Repeals divisional venue in civil cases.

Permits a judge to retain an assignment upon divestment of the financial interest providing grounds for his or her disqualification.

Doubles the amount permitted as a Claims Court filing fee. Directs the Judicial Conference of the United States to report to the Congress on the actual cost of filing actions in district courts.

Revises various provisions of the Federal judicial code and other Federal law relating to procedural and administrative matters, including: (1) registration of foreign judgments; (2) exemption of bankruptcy judges, magistrates, and law clerks from the Federal Leave Act; (3) cost-of-living adjustments with respect to annuities paid to the Directors of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and of the Federal Judicial Center upon retirement and inclusion of these officials within the Federal Employees' Retirement System or Civil Service Retirement System; (4) military retirement pay for senior retired judges; (5) incentive awards for Federal judicial branch employees; (6) waiver of claims for overpayment of judicial pay and allowances; (7) court security; (8) travel cost reimbursements in judicial employees; (9) corporate venue; (10) the method for recording court proceedings; (11) court accommodations; (12) removal of civil or criminal actions from State to district court; (13) cost-of-living adjustments for judicial survivors' annuities; (14) elimination of the requirement that a circuit executive be certified by the Board of Certification; (15) appeals of an arbitration order and other decisions; and (16) the inclusion of mask works in various provisions relating to copyright protection.

Amends the Federal judicial code to require the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to submit semiannual rather than quarterly statistical reports to the chief judges of the circuits concerning court business.

Restructures Florida's judicial districts by moving Collier, Glades, and Hendry Counties from the Southern District into the Middle District. Authorizes the Chief Justice or the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to assign any Ninth Circuit or district judge to serve temporarily with the courts of the territorial courts of the freely associated compact states.

Sets the salary of U.S. Claims Court judges at the same rate, and in the same manner, as that of district court judges.