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Status of Article III Judgeships

On September 30, 2012, a total of 17 vacancies existed among the 179 judgeships authorized for the U.S. courts of appeals. Eight of these vacancies had been unfilled for more than 18 months. The appeals courts also had 17 vacancies one year earlier, 5 of them for more than 18 months.

On September 30, 2012, 66 vacancies existed among the 677 positions authorized in the district courts, 1 fewer than the 67 vacancies reported at the end of 2011. Seventeen of the vacancies on September 30, 2012, had existed for more than 18 months, down from 21 vacancies one year earlier.

A total of 34 judicial emergencies were identified in the U.S. courts of appeals and U.S. district courts on September 30, 2012—4 more than one year earlier. For the courts of appeals, which had 6 judicial emergencies, a judicial emergency is defined as any vacancy where adjusted filings (i.e., filings excluding reinstated cases and weighting pro se appeals as one-third of a case) per panel are in excess of 700, or any vacancy in existence more than 18 months where adjusted filings are between 500 to 700 per panel. For the district courts, which had 28 judicial emergencies, a judicial emergency is defined as a vacancy of any duration where weighted filings per judgeship are in excess of 600 or any vacancy longer than 18 months in a district court with weighted filings between 430 and 600 per judgeship, or any vacancy in a district court with more than one authorized judgeship and only one active judge.

In addition to active judges, 86 senior circuit judges with staff were serving the Judiciary by participating in appeals decisions at the end of the fiscal year, 2 more than in 2011, but 5 fewer than in 2008. The U.S. district courts reported 354 senior judges with staff, 13 more than had been serving one year earlier and 30 more than in 2008.

For information on the status of judgeship positions since 2008, see Table 11.

Table 11
Status of Article III Judgeship Positions
September 30, 2008 - 2012
U.S. Courts of Appeals U.S. District Courts
Year Authorized Judgeships Vacancies Senior
Judges1
Authorized Judgeships Vacancies Senior
Judges2
2008 1783 12 91   678 27 324
2009 179 20 93   678 75 347
2010 179 21 95   678 88 356
2011 179 17 84   6774 67 341
2012 179 17 86   677 66 354
1 Senior judges who participated in appeals dispositions and authorized for staff.
2 Senior judges authorized for staff.
3 In 2008, the total number of authorized judgeships temporarily was reduced by one by the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007.
4 In 2011, the total number of U.S. District Courts authorized judgeships decreased by one position when a temporary judgeship in the Northern District of Ohio lapsed after a judge there was elevated to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.