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date: 26 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The formal organization of court systems and jurisdictional rules established by legislatures often determine which litigants will have their cases reviewed by an appellate court. While some procedural obstacles are straightforward in their application, others require judicial interpretation with research findings suggesting that judges’ policy goals are related to decision-making on threshold issues. Even if there are no jurisdictional constraints, some losing litigants weigh the costs and benefits of pursuing an appeal. Still, filing an appeal does not guarantee full consideration of the issues raised by an appellant. Caseload pressures have contributed to screening procedures that result in only a minority of cases being closely scrutinized by an appellate panel. This chapter examines research on this winnowing process that characterizes litigant access to intermediate appellate courts.

Keywords: access, courts, courts of appeals, intermediate courts, U.S. courts, jurisdiction, appeal, case screening, threshold issues

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