Summary: H.R.4482 — 97th Congress (1981-1982)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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House agreed to Senate amendment with amendment (03/09/1982)

(House agreed to Senate amendment with amendment)

Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1981 - Title I: United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and United States Claims Court - Part A: Organization, Structure, and Jurisdiction; Number and Composition of Circuits - Establishes the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, composed of all Federal judicial districts and consisting of 12 judges.

Requires sessions of such Court of Appeals to be scheduled with as little inconvenience and expense to citizens as is practicable.

Grants the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit exclusive jurisdiction over: (1) patent, copyright, and trademark appeals from district courts (except cases involving copyrights or trademarks and no other issues, which shall continue to be appealed to the circuit courts); (2) appeals of claims against the Government (except cases under the Federal Tort Claims Act which shall continue to be appealed to the circuit courts); (3) appeals from the United States Claims Courts; (4) certain other trademark and patent appeals not involving de novo review; (5) appeals from final decisions of the United States Court of International Trade; (6) appeals from final determinations of the United States International Trade Commission relating to unfair practices in import trade; (7) certain findings of the Secretary of Commerce relating to importation of instruments; (8) appeals under the Plant Variety Protection Act and from final orders of the Merit Systems Protection Board; and (9) appeals from final decisions of agency boards of contract appeals pursuant to the Contract Disputes Act of 1978.

Declares the District of Columbia to be the official duty station of such Court of Appeals.

Replaces the Court of Claims with the United States Claims Court, consisting of 16 judges serving 15-year terms. Directs the President to designate the chief judge of the Claims Court.

Abolishes the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals.

Makes funds appropriated to the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and the Court of Claims for fiscal year 1982 available for the operation of such Court of Appeals and the United States Claims Court.

Directs the United States Claims Court to give due regard to the interests of national defense or national security in exercising its jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief.

Part B: Conforming Amendments Outside Title 28 - Makes conforming amendments.

Part C: Miscellaneous Provisions - Provides that the judges of the United States Court of Claims and United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals in regular active service shall continue in office as judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Provides that commissioners of the United States Court of Claims shall become judges of the United States Claims Court. Limits the initial term of office of such judges to 15 years, except that no individual shall serve as a judge after reaching age 70.

Declares it the suggestion of Congress that the President select from a broad range of qualified individuals when nominating persons to judgeships on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the Claims Court.

Title II: Governance and Administration of the Federal Courts - Part A: Chief Judge Tenure - Sets forth rules governing the appointment and terms of the chief judges of the courts of appeals and the district courts. Provides that any such chief judge shall serve for a seven-year term and shall be the circuit or district judge in regular active service who is senior in commission of those judges who: (1) are under 64 years of age (currently 70); (2) have served for at least one year; and (3) have not served previously as chief judge.

Part B: Precedence and Composition of Panel - Requires that a majority of the members of a circuit panel be judges of the circuit on which the panel sits.

Part C: Judicial Councils of the Circuits - Makes technical and conforming amendments concerning appointments to the Federal Public Defender Organization.

Part D: Judicial Resignation; Pensions - Directs the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to pay the amount due as a deposit for civil service retirement purposes for a period of judicial service which immediately precedes government service.

Part E: Rules of Practice - Requires publication of the rules for the conduct of the business of each court of appeals. Directs each court of appeals to appoint an advisory committee for the study of its rules of practice and internal operating procedures.

Title III: Jurisdiction and Procedure - Part A: Transfer of Cases - Directs a Federal court to transfer any action with regard to which it finds a want of jurisdiction to any other appropriate Federal court, if it is in the interest of justice.

Part B: Interest - Changes the basis for the interest rate on judgments in Federal courts from the rate allowed by State law to a national rate keyed to the auction price of 52 week United States Treasury bills.

Disallows interest on judgments of the Claims Court.

Declares that the interest provisions of this Act shall not apply to any judgment in any internal revenue tax case.

Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions - Allows court reporters to use electronic sound recording equipment to record verbatim court proceedings.

Permits district courts to collect fees for certain transcripts requested by the parties to an action.

Makes the provisions of this Act effective October 1, 1982.

Transfers certain pending cases to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and to appropriate district courts of appeal.