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Order Code RS2011 2
March 10, 1999
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Judicial Improvement Act of 1999, S . 248,
106 th Congress
P. L. Morgan
American Law Division
This legislation, ' affecting the federal judiciary and judicial procedure, contain s
measures ranging from a requirement for a three judge court in certain instances to
expanding the jurisdiction of the U .S. district courts to improve their ability to handle
complex multidistrict litigation arising from a single accident, such as an airplane crash .
This report, which will be revised if the Act's provisions are significantly changed, give s
a brief sketch of the proposals, several of which are identical, or substantially similar, t o
portions of RR_ 1252, 105 th Congress, as passed by the House of Representatives .2
Section I . Short title. The Act may be cited as the "Judicial Improvement Act o f
Section 2. Procedures for Certain Injunctions . Would require a three judg e
court, composed of one U .S. circuit court judge and two U .S . district court judges, t o
hear, on an expedited basis, any application for an interlocutory or permanent injunction
against the enforcement, operation or execution of a state law adopted by referendum o r
an Act of Congress [sic] on the ground that the state law conflicts with the United States
Constitution, federal law, or a treaty of the United States . Appeal of the decision woul d
be to a circuit court of appeals . Would limit a temporary restraining order in such case s
to no longer than 10 days and an interlocutory injunction to no longer than 60 days .
Would require that appeal from orders granting such interlocutory injunctions be filed
within 14 days, and that courts of appeal dispose of the appeal within 100 days after the
issuance of the order granting relief, and further, that the interlocutory order would remai n
'Introduced January 19, 1999, 145 Cong. Rec. S701 (statement of Sena Hatch) .
2 144 Cong. Rec. H2286 (daily ed. April 23, 1998) . See : CRS Report 98-187 A, Judicial Reform
Act of 1998, H.R. 1252. I05t" Congress, by P. L. Morgan, which includes pros/cons . Sections 4,
5, 7, 9, 10, 11, and 18 of this bill were included in H .R. 1252 . The arguments advanced for the
provisions in that bill could be expected to be forwarded for the similar sections of S . 2163 .
CRS Reports are prepared for Members and committees of Congress
in force no longer than 60 days after the appellate decision or until replaced by a
permanent injunction .
Section 3. Limitations on Remedial Authority . Would provide that in any civi l
action where a consent judgment is entered or prospective relief is issued which binds state
or Iocal officials, such relief would be terminable upon the motion of any party o r
intervener : (1) 5 years after the court granted or approved the prospective relief ; (2) 2
years after the date the court has entered an order denying termination of prospectiv e
relief; or (3) if granted before enactment of this legislation, 2 years after the date o f
enactment . The court would have to make certain findings to preclude termination .
Parties or interveners could seek modification or termination of relief before it is availabl e
under this timetable . The court would be required to rule promptly on termination o r
modification motions and if a ruling is not made within 60 days, the order or consen t
judgment binding state or local officials would automatically terminate and be of no furthe r
legal force . Would set procedures, including powers, duties, and compensation for specia l
masters in such situations . Would prohibit federal courts from directly ordering a unit o f
federal, state, or local government to increase taxes as part of a judicial remedy but woul d
not limit the authority of a federal court to order a remedy that may lead to a tax increase .
Would not limit state court remedial power .
Section 4. Interlocutory Appeals of Court Orders Relating to Class Actions .
Would authorize a party to an action to appeal a district court determination of whethe r
the proceedings may be maintained as a class action . If the appeal application is mad e
within 10 days of the district court determination, the court of appeals at its discretio n
could grant the appeal. Application for appeal would not automatically stay district cour t
Section 5 . Multiparty, Multiforum Jurisdiction of District Courts . Would giv e
U.S. district courts original jurisdiction of any civil action involving minimal diversit y
between adverse parties that arises from a single accident, where at least 25 natura l
persons have died or incurred injury in the accident at a discrete location and, in the cas e
of injury, the injury has resulted in damages which exceed $50,000 per person, exclusiv e
of interest and costs if: (1) a defendant resides in a state and a substantial part of th e
accident took place in another state or other location, regardless of whether that defendan t
is also a resident of the state where a substantial part of the accident took place ; (2) any
two defendants reside in different states, regardless of whether such defendants are als o
residents of the same state or states ; or (3) substantial parts of the accident took place i n
different states . Any person with a claim arising out of the accident would be allowed t o
intervene as a party plaintiff even if the party could not have brought an action in a distric t
court as an original matter . Numerous terms are defined and conforming amendment s
made to statutes pertaining to venue, multidistrict litigation, remands for damag e
determinations, appeals, and removal of actions . In determining the source of substantiv e
law, the district courts would not be bound by the choice of law rules of any state and ma y
consider the . following factors in choosing the applicable law : (1) the place of the injury ;
(2) the place of the conduct causing the injury; (3) the principal places of business o r
domiciles of the parties ; (4) the danger of creating unnecessary incentives for foru m
shopping; and (5) whether the choice of law would be reasonably foreseeable to th e
parties . Upon a showing of good cause, the law of more than one state could be applied .
Provision is made for service of subpoenas any place within the United States or outsid e
the United States if permitted by law .
Section 6. Appeals of Merit Systems Protection Board . Would, under certain
circumstances, require that an individual first seeking corrective action for a prohibite d
personnel practice from the Special Counsel to seek that relief within 60 days of receivin g
notice of the personnel action at issue as a condition precedent to seeking corrective actio n
from the Merit Systems Protection Board .
Section 7. Extension of Judiciary Information Technology Fund . Would
eliminate the provision in 28 U .S .C. § 612, which authorizes the Judiciary Information
Technology Fund, subjecting the activities of the Fund to the management process of th e
executive branch .
Section 8 . Authorization for Voluntary Services . Would authorize the
Administrative Assistant to the Chief Justice to accept voluntary personal services for the
purpose of providing tours of the Supreme Court building if : (1) the Chief Justice
approves ; (2) the volunteer agrees, in writing, to waive any claims against the Unite d
States, except those involving work injuries; (3) the volunteer is considered an employe e
of the United States only for purposes of compensation for work related injuries an d
federal tort claims procedure; and (4) the volunteer services do not result in the reductio n
of pay or displacement of any employee of the Supreme Court .
Section 9 . Offsetting Receipts . Would allow the judiciary to retain any additiona l
offsetting receipts derived from increases in miscellaneous fees charged in the federa l
courts of appeals, district courts, bankruptcy courts, the Court of Federal Claims, and b y
the Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation .
Section 10. Sunset of Civil Justice Expense and Delay Reduction Plans . Would
provide that the requirement for district court civil justice expense and delay reductio n
plans be eliminated retroactively to December 1, 1997 .
Section 11 . Creation of Certifying Officers in the Judicial Branch . Would
enable the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to appoin t
disbursing officials in the various court units who would be responsible for the propriety
of payments they request . Would also enable the Director to appoint disbursing official s
in the various court units who would be responsible for ensuring that payment requests ar e
proper, certified and approved .
Section 12. Limitation on Collateral Relief. Would apply to federal courts hearing
petitions for collateral review of custody or sentence of a person convicted in whole or i n
part on the basis of a voluntarily given confession of that person . Would require adherenc e
to standards mandated statutorily by 18 U .S .C. § 3501 and 28 U .S .C. § 2254 in
determining the voluntariness of confessions in federal and state cases, respectively .
Section 13 . Laurie Show Victim Protection . Would prohibit a federal court from
barring the retrial in state court of a person filing a writ of habeas corpus .3
31n response to Lambert v. Blackwell, 962 F_Supp . 1521 (E .D .Pa . 1997), vacated, 134 F .3d 506
(3' Cir. 1997) . [After testimony on a convicted murderess' petition for a writ of habeas corpus ,
(continued. . .)
Section 14 . Rule of Construction Relating to Retroactive Application o f
Statutes . Would provide that any Act of Congress would be prospective in applicatio n
unless a provision in the Act expressly specifies otherwise .
Section 15 . Appropriate Remedies for Prison Conditions . Would set forth
procedures for entering prospective relief in any civil action with respect to priso n
conditions . Would require specific written findings as to the law, facts, and relief grante d
in each case, as well as on the estimated impact of the prospective relief on public safet y
and the operation of any affected criminal justice system . Specifies procedure for motion s
to terminate relief including contents of motions, supporting documentation required, an d
allocation of the burden of persuasion . Also sets procedures for summary determinatio n
of the motion, authority to conduct an evidentiary hearing and/or limited discovery . Law
concerning special masters for civil actions with respect to prison conditions would b e
amended relative to compensation and duties that may be assigned them .
Section 16. Limitation on Fees . Would limit attorneys fees in certain successfu l
litigation involving prisoners to the lesser of a rate of $100 per hour or the hourly rat e
authorized for court-appointed counsel under the Criminal Justice Act .4
Section 17 . Notice of Malicious Filings. Would authorize a federal court, on its
own motion or the motion of an adverse party, to make a finding that a state prisoner has :
(1) filed a claim for a malicious purpose ; (2) filed a claim to harass a party ; or (3) testified
falsely or presented false information to the court and transmit such findings to the stat e
department of corrections or other appropriate state authority . Pursuant to state law, the
authority could, if considered appropriate, revoke good time or consider the finding i n
determining release dates, etc ., for the state prisoner .
Section 18 . Limitation on Prisoner Release Orders . Would remove the
jurisdiction of federal courts, in civil actions with respect to prison conditions, to enter o r
carry out any prisoner release order that would result in the release from, or nonadmissio n
to, a prison on the basis of prison conditions if the prisoner is convicted of a felony .
Would also be applicable if the person is being imprisoned or reimprisoned because of a
violation of the terms or conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release, or a diversionar y
program, relating to the commission of a felony . Would prohibit reinstatement of certai n
revoked credit toward service of sentence for satisfactory behavior .' Would authorize th e
Bureau of Prisons to revoke such credit, at any time before vesting, for noncomplianc e
with institutional disciplinary regulations .
the district court entered an order granting the writ, releasing the petitioner from custody, an d
barring the State from conducting a retrial of the petitioner . The 3`d Circuit vacated and remanded
the case for dismissal on the ground that the petitioner had not exhausted her state court remedies .
Victim of the murder was Laurie Show.] .
418 U.S .C. § 3006A .
'This provision is unclear due to apparent typographical errors .
Section 19. Repeal of Section 140 . Would repeal section 140 of P . L . 97-92, whic h
requires specific congressional authorization before the obligation or expenditure of fund s
to increase the salary of Article III judges . 6
Section 20 . Severability. Provides that the remainder of the Act shall not b e
affected if any provision of the legislation is found to be unconstitutional .
'See generally CRS Government Division Memorandum of
Sharon S . G-ressle .
August 9, 1996 : Judicial Salaries, by