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Ongoing Pilots, Projects, and Reports - Annual Report 2013

Patent Pilot Project

Under legislation enacted in January 2011(Pub. L. No. 111-349), Congress required the Judiciary to establish, in at least six district courts, a 10-year pilot project designed to enhance the expertise of district court judges in patent cases through specialization and training. Fourteen district courts volunteered for the pilot that began in September 2011. The Federal Judicial Center (FJC) is studying the pilot under the guidance of the Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration and Case Management. The Committee and the FJC also are studying workload assignment procedures in the pilot courts to determine which procedures are most effective for evenly distributing cases among judges in the pilot courts.

Pilot Project on Cameras in the Courtroom

In September 2010, the Judicial Conference approved a pilot project allowing 14 participating district courts to record video of civil proceedings. As of October 2013, a total of 552 videos representing 93 cases had been posted. Collectively the videos have received 245,000 views. The videos include numerous types of civil proceedings, ranging from short motion hearings to full jury trials to a hearing before a three-judge panel on voting rights issues. Proceedings cover First and Fourth Amendments issues, personal injury, civil rights, trademark infringements, habeas corpus, patents, libel, and environmental cases. The site includes brief summaries of each video recording, grouped by court, subject matter, or procedural posture.

The pilot began in July 2011, but less than half of the pilot districts began recording proceedings at that time. Because many of the districts will not have three full years of experience with cameras before the pilot concludes in 2014, in 2013 the Judicial Conference approved an extension of the pilot for one additional year to July 2015.

Bankruptcy Forms Modernization Project

In June 2013, the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure (Standing Committee) approved, with an effective date of December 1, 2013, several modernized forms to be used by individual debtors when filing for relief in bankruptcy. This is the first set of forms recommended for publication by the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules as part of its major, multi-year effort to make bankruptcy forms more user-friendly, accurate, and electronically fillable. The Standing Committee has recommended that the remaining individual-debtor forms be published for public comment this year. The revised forms to be used by entities such as corporations are on track to be published for comment next summer.