Judicial Conference Asks Congress to Create New Judgeships
The Judicial Conference of the United States today agreed to recommend to Congress the creation of 57 new Article III judgeships in the courts of appeals and district courts. If an omnibus judgeship bill is enacted into law, it would be first new comprehensive judgeship legislation to take effect in more than 26 years.
Specifically, the Conference will transmit to Congress a recommendation to create five permanent Article III judgeships in the courts of appeals and 52 permanent Article III judgeships and the conversion to permanent status of eight temporary judgeships in the district courts. Since 1990, when the last comprehensive judgeship bill was enacted, appeals filings have grown 40 percent and district court filings have grown 38 percent (civil up 38 percent and criminal up 39 percent). In addition, the Judicial Conference also agreed to recommend to Congress and the President that they not fill the next judgeship vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and in the District of Wyoming, based on consistently low filings in both courts.
In other action, the Conference:
- Amended its regulations on access to Judiciary financial disclosure reports to allow for their public release on electronic storage devices (thumb drives) at no charge. The Conference’s Financial Disclosure Committee concluded that this amendment will reduce the costs incurred by the Judiciary and by requesters and increase the speed with which the reports can be released. Requesters who specifically ask for paper copies of reports will continue to be charged 20 cents a page to cover copying and mailing costs. This new process for releasing reports takes effect immediately.
- Received a report from Judge Julia Gibbons, chair of the Conference's Budget Committee, who characterized the budget outlook for the Judiciary as "uncertain." She told the Conference: "We find ourselves with an uncertain budget outlook going forward. We are concerned about the impact a series of flat budgets, or actual declines, would have on federal court operations. Such a scenario would put us back into the financial condition we were under during sequestration within a few years."
The 26-member Judicial Conference is the policy-making body for the federal court system. By statute, the Chief Justice of the United States serves as its presiding officer and its members are 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.
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