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Take Another Look at 9th Circuit's Record

September 21, 2003

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the largest in the appellate system. Its description as "the most overturned appeals court in the nation" (letters, Sept. 17) may be true in terms of sheer volume (18 of 24 decisions reviewed were overturned in the 2002-03 term, for a reversal rate of 75%). But in the same term, four other circuits, the 4th, 5th, 8th and 10th all had reversal rates of 100%. (Combined, these circuits had eight out of eight decisions overturned.)

With the exception of the 3rd Circuit, which had no decisions brought before the Supreme Court, the remaining circuits had overturn rates of 75% (6th), 67% (2nd and 7th), 50% (11th) and 0% (1st). That places the 9th and the 6th squarely in the median. It also places those two circuits in a position reflecting the overall reversal rate of the previous term. Of the 80 cases heard by the Supreme Court in 2002-03, 58, or 73%, were overturned.

Gregory Sheehy

La Crescenta

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Michael Ramirez spouts the Republican Party line on cue in his Sept. 18 editorial cartoon (Commentary). The 9th Circuit Court is dutifully portrayed as a clown for its 80% "failure" (reversal) rate. What he is most tellingly silent on is the 100% reversal (failure?) rates of some of the other circuit courts. Michael, what gives?

Kevin P. Smith

Newbury Park

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