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February 2008

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.

 

Senior Judges Continue to Provide Vital Help


Year in and year out over the past decade, senior judges — those who opted for that status instead of retiring at full pay — have shouldered a significant share of the work of federal district and appellate courts.

For the 12 months ending June 30, 2007, senior judges participated in 18.8 percent of all oral hearings and submissions of briefs in the appellate courts and terminated 18.2 percent of all civil and criminal cases in district courts. Both percentages are up from those recorded in the previous 12 months — 17 and 17.1.

Congress in 1919 first authorized judges to retire at age 70 after 10 years of service, and to continue to retain the judicial office and perform duties in retired status. In 1948, Congress provided that judges retiring from active service would continue to receive the full judicial salary. Six years later, the minimum retirement age became 65, with 15 years of service.

A senior judge must do at least 25 percent of the work of an active service judge to keep staff and office space, but some judges continue carrying a full caseload after taking senior status.

Work of Senior Judges
1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Courts of Appeals
Participations in Oral Hearings and Submissions on Briefs
Percent of All by Senior Judges 15.9 15.1 16.4 15.9 15.8 16.9* 17.2 18 17.1 18.8
District Courts
All Civil Cases and Criminal Defendants Terminated
Percent of All by Senior Judges 17.1 17.2 18.1 17.7 17.9 17.8 17.3 16.5 17 18.2
All Trials Conducted
Percent of All by Senior Judges 20.7 19.2 18.2 18.4 19.1 19 17.9 17.2 18.3 19.8
All Hours in Trial
Percent of All by Senior Judges 20.4 18.5 18.4 17.9 18.3 17.6 16.6 15.6 16 19.1
All Hours in Other Proceedings
Percent of All by Senior Judges 20.7 19.8 19.5 19.2 19.6 19.9 18.9 17.4 18 19