Pitt Law Professor Arthur Hellman is Quoted on Controversy over Case Assignments in Ninth Circuit

Allegations of panel packing to favor liberal outcomes in the Ninth Circuit have generated controversy. A story in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, available to subscribers only but quoted extensively by Ed Whelan at National Review Online, presented the views of Pitt Law Professor Arthur D. Hellman.

According to the story, Hellman, an authority on judicial ethics, said he's convinced the Ninth Circuit is in the clear but believes a probe is warranted.

“I have known [the circuit’s executive officer] Cathy Catterson for many years, and I have absolute confidence that she would never countenance any kind of panel packing,” Hellman wrote in an email.

Hellman's comment came with a strong suggestion that the circuit nevertheless address the claims publicly.

“In this as in so many other aspects of federal court operations, 'trust me' is no longer an adequate response,” he wrote.

Hellman called for a formal investigation of the allegations and a report to the public of the findings.

Beyond the specifics of what exactly went on, Hellman wrote, “I was surprised by [former Chief Judge Alex] Kozinski's apparent lack of curiosity—not to mention his apparent ignorance of court procedures and their evolution.”

Access the National Review Online article here.

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