A bill introduced today would shrink the number of Court of Appeals judges from 15 to 12.  If enacted, the bill would have the next three retirements or other vacancies simply go unfilled.

The Court of Appeals had 12 judges from 1977 through 2000, when the number was increased to 15.  Even with a full complement of 15 judges, the judges on the Court of Appeals are extremely busy.  The 20% reduction proposed by the legislation would likely cause longer wait times between the docketing of cases and their disposition.

The bill would also change how class action certification decisions may be appealed.  Currently, only those orders denying class certification are immediately appealable, while orders granting class certification are not.  Appeals of orders denying class certification are generally taken to the Court of Appeals, except in Business Court cases, where appeals lie in the Supreme Court. If the bill becomes law, both types of orders would be immediately appealable to the Supreme Court.

Next, the bill would authorize the Supreme Court to grant a “PDR Prior” or “Bypass PDR,” transferring an appeal from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court before the Court of Appeals decides it, whenever the “subject matter of the appeal is important in overseeing the jurisdiction and integrity of the court system.”

Finally, the bill would allow an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court from any decision regarding an attorney’s  scheduling conflicts in different courts under Rule 3.1 of the General Rules of Practice.

As always, we welcome your thoughts and insights in the comments section below.

–Matt Leerberg