The petitioner’s lawyer and the federal trial judge erred, but that’s understandable, there are too many laws to keep straight, Chief Judge Ed Carnes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit opined in a civil rights case.
“The current universe of federal law did begin with a bang, although not a big one,” referring to the four-page U.S. Constitution, Carnes wrote Feb. 27 in a case the U.S. Department of Justice brought against the Florida Department of Corrections. Now “there is a vast amount of federal law. So much that no one can hope to keep it all in mind, much less master the mass of it,”
He trotted out some impressively huge numbers to make his point, including 45,000 pages in the U.S. Code and 175,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations.
“Attorneys and judges sometimes overlook a statutory provision, a regulation or a decision that directly controls a case. We have all done it occasionally. It happened in this case,” Carnes wrote.
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“Federal prisoners are treated differently now by the federal courts in many respects,” Berg said. He traced the sea change to the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996.