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courts, procedure, judicial decisionmaking, settlement


Federal appellate courts have significant discretion to set the internal policies that govern the appeals process, and they have used that discretion to institute policies designed to combat increasing caseloads. This Article takes a close look at one such policy: early announcement of panel composition in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In stark contrast to every other circuit, the D.C. Circuit announces panel composition to litigants in civil appeals well in advance of oral argument, and it does so at least in part to encourage settlement and control the court's workload. This Article concludes that although there are indications that the policy is serving its intended purpose, the effect is far from dramatic. To understand the limited effect, the Article first considers various barriers created by the content of the court's cue and by the ways that litigants respond to that content. The Article then explores how those barriers might alter the pool of cases that proceed to a merits decision.

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