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Temporary Judgeship Bill to Help Five Districts
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved and sent to the Senate floor
for a vote, a bill, S. 1327, that would create two temporary district
court judgeships and extend three others. Committee chairman Senator
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also indicated he would support a more
comprehensive judgeship bill in the future.
“Last Congress two of these needed temporary judgeships
were allowed to expire,” Leahy said. “One was in Nebraska and the other
in California. That was unfortunate in my view since they continue to
have high caseloads.” S. 1327 would create temporary judges in the
Districts of Nebraska and the Eastern District of California.
The bill also would extend three temporary judgeships,
one in the Northern District of Ohio and one each in the Districts of
Hawaii and Kansas. All three districts have high caseloads with
temporary judgeships close to expiring. “I support acting to ensure
their continuation,” said Leahy, “until we have had the opportunity to
conduct a comprehensive review of the judgeship needs throughout the
Federal system. I hope to undertake that review next year.”
During the Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the
legislation, Leahy made clear, in response to a considered attempt to
add judgeships to the bill, that he was willing to work with committee
members to draft a separate judgeship bill—which would take effect in
Although the judges appointed to the temporary judgeships
have lifetime appointments, legislation creating temporary judgeships
specifies that the first vacancy in the district after a set date cannot
be filled. Under the provisions of S. 1327, in any of the five
districts, the first vacancy occurring 10 years after a judge was
appointed to the temporary judgeship would not be filled.
The Judicial Conference recommends a new judgeship be
considered for a district where the current caseload is above 430
weighted filings per judgeship, after factoring in any additional
judgeships. Nebraska’s weighted caseload per judgeship is now at 617 and
the Eastern District of California’s weighted caseload per judgeship is
at 952. The three other districts for which temporary judgeships have
been recommended would see their weighted caseload per judgeship near or
exceed 430 if they lose their current temporary judgeships.