Law: Why Those Big Cases Drag On

Judges are learning to deal with delay—but slowly

To Federal Judge Charles Renfrew, it amounts to "a war of attrition." U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Irving Kaufman says it reminds him of "the duels of young gentlemen of San Francisco in the last century, who matched each other tossing gold coins into the bay until one cried, 'Enough!' "

Both are referring, with unconcealed dread and awe, to the lawyer's equivalent of the Serbonian bog in Milton's Paradise Lost, "where armies whole have sunk." Most lawyers call it simply the "Big Case": the massive, sprawling...

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