en banc | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

En banc is French, meaning “on the bench.” All judges of an appellate court sit together to hear a case, as opposed to the routine disposition by panels of three judges.

In the Ninth Circuit, an en banc panel consists of 11 randomly selected judges.

En banc refers to a procedure in appellate court where all judges of the court hear a case together, rather than the typical three-judge panel, and is used for important or controversial cases that require the attention of the entire court to ensure a fair and consistent decision.

This process is usually reserved for cases that raise significant legal or constitutional issues or when a prior decision by a three-judge panel is deemed to be in conflict with other decisions, making it necessary to reevaluate and clarify the law.

The en banc hearing can also be requested by the parties to the case or by the judges themselves and typically involves oral arguments and a review of legal briefs before a final decision is rendered. The purpose of the en banc process is to ensure a more robust review of the issues presented and to provide a more authoritative and consistent decision that carries greater weight and precedent within the legal community.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 04/07/2023

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