Monday, March 28, 2011

Senior judges keep 9th Circuit courthouses open

With vacant judgeships and mounting caseloads, the ninth circuit relies on its senior judges. Carol J. Williams, Senior Judges Keep 9th Circuit Courthouses Open, L.A. Times, March 14, 2011. Featured is 88-year-old Judge Betty Fletcher (UW Law class of 1956) who carries a full caseload.


Aaron McElhose said...

I had a discussion about this article the other day with an attorney who was a former 9th Circuit clerk. It seems the general consensus, when considering the caseload the 9th Circuit sees, is that it's way past time to split the circuit. Unfortunately, politics play all-too-heavy a role in preventing this from occurring, just like they play too much of a role in confirmation of nominations.

It shouldn't take a dire emergency for congressional action, and I wonder/worry if the situation in the District of Arizona is going to get to that level, where the district becomes so shorthanded that they start to have issues with the criminal docket.

Danny Stallings said...

I was talking to an attorney the other day too who clerked on the 9th circuit and said that Judge Fletcher basically takes on a full caseload or even more than a full caseload. Maybe it's because she feels she needs to since our government can't seem to get judges appointed.

I also talked to a third circuit judge who said that he thinks the problem is twofold: (1) our political leaders are incompetent and can't agree on anything long enough to appoint judges; and (2) we shouldn't give people appeals as a matter of right in federal court. In his view, we apparently didn't always have that in the federal system, or in America. His suggestion was to abolish federal appeals as a matter of right and give the circuit courts a discretionary case load.

That is one solution I guess. The other would be to just go ahead and appoint a full complement of judges.