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The Judicial Business of a Nineteenth-Century Federal Trial Court: The Northern District of California, 1851-1891

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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/11390

The Judicial Business of a Nineteenth-Century Federal Trial Court: The Northern District of California, 1851-1891

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Title: The Judicial Business of a Nineteenth-Century Federal Trial Court: The Northern District of California, 1851-1891
Author: Fritz, Christian
Abstract: Studies of the work of American trial courts—particularly the federal courts in the nineteenth century—are extremely rare. One exception is Federal Justice in California: The Court of Ogden Hoffman, 1851-1891 (1991)—an archival study of the forty year tenure of the first judge of the Northern District of California. Federal Justice is both an institutional study of that court and a biography of its first judge, Ogden Hoffman. Federal Justice rests upon an analysis of over 19,000 case files generated by the first forty years of that court’s existence and provides a general summary of the dockets and workload of the court. The present study presents a more detailed and statistical analysis of the number, type, and disposition of cases than was available in Federal Justice. It analyzes the court’s eight dockets: Private Admiralty (Chinese habeas corpus petitions), Criminal, Private Admiralty (non-Chinese habeas petitions), Bankruptcy, U.S. Admiralty, Bond Cases, Common Law and Equity, and Private Land Grants. In offering a breakdown of the totality of the workload of the court, it gives a unique and dynamic picture of the workings of a federal trial court of the nineteenth century: the discretionary nature of federal trial court prosecutions; the independence of federal prosecutors; and the varied experiences of federal litigants. The analysis is supplemented by 17 tables and graphs, most of which were not included in Federal Justice.
Date: 1992
Publisher: Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society
Citation: 5 W. Legal Hist. 217 (1992)
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/11390

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