New Ideas in Civil Case Management from Two California Complex Litigation Program Judges

In a recent Judicature article, Los Angeles Complex Litigation Program Judges Carolyn B. Kuhl and William F. Highberger offer a unified theory of civil case management. In addition to their considerable personal experience, they drill down into theory and general experience in civil case management, identify case management issues and practices, and propose means to measure and develop better civil case management practices.  A copy of that article  can be found here.

This article is based on an earlier work they presented in 2021 during a conference held by the UCLA-RAND Center for Law and Public Policy, Rethinking Case Management and the Process of Civil Justice Reform.  A summary of that conference, panel discussions, and the papers presented can be found in this 2023 document.

My attention was drawn to their writings and ideas because of the historical relationship between California’s Complex Litigation Program and business courts, both in distinctions and similarities, and Judge Highberger’s being a member of the American College of Business Court Judges.  Although California ultimately rejected the idea of a business courts in favor of specialized complex litigation dockets, see, e.g., Paula L. Hannaford-Agor, Nicole L. Mott, and Timothy F. Fautsko, Evaluation of the Centers for Complex Civil Litigation Pilot Program, Final Report, National Center for State Courts and California Administrative Office of the Courts (June 30, 2003), in practice, there does not appear to be a bright line separating all functions of these two models.

Notably evidencing the overlapping relationship, retired California Superior Court Complex Litigation Program Judge Gail A. Andler is a past president of the American College of Business Court Judges, and a contributing author to the ABA publication, The Business Courts Benchbook.

I also note that in a 2007 article, Business Litigation in the San Francisco Superior Court System, Judge David Ballati observed: “The San Francisco Superior Court has addressed the needs of the business litigation community by implementing specific court systems. In this article, I describe the history and function of two of the major aspects of the San Francisco Superior Court that help deal with the caseload of business litigation: the recently expanded complex litigation departments, and the system for obtaining a single-assignment judge.”

Posted by Lee Applebaum