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Restrictions on ‘Judge Shopping’ in the U.S.

Judge Shopping

In the U.S., “judge shopping” refers to the practice of trying to select a specific judge for a future legal proceeding based on the belief that this judge will be more favorable to the interests of one of the parties. This practice may involve transferring the case to a particular court or jurisdiction where the judge is expected to have certain favorable inclinations or biases. It is a very common tactic in the U.S. legal system.

An example of “judge shopping” might involve a company facing multiple lawsuits in different state jurisdictions. The company’s legal team would analyze previous rulings and jurisprudence of various judges in those jurisdictions. If they find a judge with a history of ruling favorably for defendants in similar cases, they might try to move all their cases to the court of that judge through various legal maneuvers, such as a change of venue.

In its March 2024 session, the Judicial Conference, following the recommendation of the Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM), approved a new case assignment procedure for district courts.

Civil actions that seek to prohibit or require the enforcement of a state law across an entire federal state, or that seek to prohibit or require the enforcement of a federal law nationwide (rule, regulation, policy, or order from the executive power or a federal agency), will be assigned to courts randomly, ensuring that district judges continue to be generalists.

With this new policy, the CACM aims to combat “judge shopping,” by requiring courts to randomly assign a judge to a lawsuit, preventing any of the parties from trying to choose a judge or court more favorable to their interests.

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