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Studies of the work of American trial courts--particularly the federal courts in the nineteenth century--are extremely rare. One exception is Federal Justice in California: The Court of Ogden Hoffman, 1851-1891 (1991)--an archival study of the forty year tenure of the first judge of the Northern District of California. Federal Justice is both an institutional study of that court and a biography of its first judge, Ogden Hoffman. Federal Justice rests upon an analysis of over 19,000 case files generated by the first forty years of that courts existence and provides a general summary of the dockets and workload of the court. The present study presents a more detailed and statistical analysis of the number, type, and disposition of cases than was available in Federal Justice. It analyzes the court's eight dockets: Private Admiralty (Chinese habeas corpus petitions), Criminal, Private Admiralty (non-Chinese habeas petitions), Bankruptcy, U.S. Admiralty, Bond Cases, Common Law and Equity, and Private Land Grants. In offering a breakdown of the totality of the workload of the court, it gives a unique and dynamic picture of the workings of a federal trial court of the nineteenth century: the discretionary nature of federal trial court prosecutions; the independence of federal prosecutors; and the varied experiences of federal litigants. The analysis is supplemented by 17 tables and graphs, most of which were not included in Federal Justice.

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Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society



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