During his first week in residence in October, Judge Jon O. Newman, the inaugural Distinguished Judge in Residence at the Bolch Judicial Institute of Duke Law, offered a lecture on federal sentencing guidelines and recorded an interview with David F. Levi, director of the Bolch Judicial Institute, discussing his 45-year tenure on the federal bench, his memoir, Benched (William S. Hein & Co., Inc., 2017), and how the U.S. judicial system might be improved.
Asked by Levi to list three wishes or reforms for the legal and judicial system, Newman said he would abolish the civil jury system (calling it a major cause of delay and expense to litigants), sharply limit “diversity jurisdiction” through which federal courts gain subject-matter jurisdiction over certain cases, and make changes to the rules on ‘standing’ in federal courts.
“I would allow all people to hold government and government officers to account for allegedly unconstitutional action or action in violation of a federal statute,” he said. “I think one of the most important things courts do is hold governments to account. That’s one of their principal purposes for existing. … [T]he system depends on being able to rule when the government has exceeded its power.”
The discussion will serve as the first of the Institute’s new podcast series, Judgment Calls, to launch in 2019.