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Judicial Conference Asks Congress to Create 57 New Judgeships

Contact: David Sellers, 202-502-2600

The Judicial Conference of the United States today voted to ask Congress to create a total of 57 new federal judgeships—11 for the courts of appeals and 46 for the district courts.

Congress has not increased the ranks of federal appeals courts since 1990, a period in which those courts’ caseloads have increased by 34 percent. The 34 district judgeships established since 1990 represent a 5 percent growth during a time in which the number of criminal and civil cases filed in the district courts increased by 33 percent.

The 11 court of appeals judgeships requested by the Conference include nine permanent and two temporary positions that would be created in four courts of appeals. The 46 district judgeships include 29 permanent and 17 temporary positions and would be located in 24 different district courts.

In addition, the Conference voted to request that Congress make permanent five temporary judgeships created in 1990. (A chart detailing the requested judgeships is attached.) Acting on a presidential recommendation, the Conference also voted to strongly urge all judges to notify the President and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts as far in advance as possible of a change in their status, preferably a year before the contemplated change in status. This action clarifies and strengthens similar Conference policies adopted in March 1988 and September 1995.

Last October the White House proposed a series of reforms to the judicial nomination and confirmation process. One recommendation called for judges to announce their plans to leave active status at least a year in advance.

The Judicial Conference is the principal policy-making body for the federal court system. The Chief Justice serves as the presiding officer of the Conference, which is composed of the chief judges of the 13 courts of appeals, a district judge from each of the 12 geographic circuits, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade. The Conference meets twice a year to consider administrative and policy issues affecting the court system, and to make recommendations to Congress concerning legislation involving the Judicial Branch. A list of the Conference members is attached.