Monday, September 20, 2010
An unnecessary strain on judicial economy
While I was a law student I worked for an appellate court, one of the cases for which I was asked to perform legal research was on an appeal from a misdemeanor conviction for contract splitting, a misdemeanor. The case had gone to a jury trial that lasted multiple days and resulted in a multi-volume record (probably over 1,000 pages of transcripts and over 1,000 pages of trial exhibits). The conviction resulted in something like a $500 fine. The defendant appealed. I forget what the final decision on the case but I learned something about judicial economy that day: courts do not apply cost-benefit analysis. The case was the product of 100s of attorney hours for both the prosecution and the defense, days for the trial judge, calling up/selecting/paying a jury for a couple of days, multiple photocopies of the different exhibits and that was just at the trial level. At the appellate level it took about a day from a judge, several days from a staff attorney, probably over 100 hours for a new set of attorneys for the prosecution and several hours for appellate counsel for the defendant, and a day's worth of work for a lowly judicial intern. The result, if the conviction was affirmed, a $500 fine and perhaps some court costs which probably didn't amount to more than another $500. The real losers . . . the tax payers and the court system.