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Judiciary Seeks Bankruptcy Judgeships, Warns of ‘Crisis’

Warning that federal bankruptcy courts face a “debilitating workload crisis” in Delaware and eight other districts, the U.S. Judicial Conference has urged Congress to authorize four new bankruptcy judgeships and convert 14 temporary judgeships into permanent positions.

The April 3 letter to Congressional leaders said that all 14 temporary judgeships are scheduled to lapse May 25, posing a particularly heavy impact on Delaware’s federal bankruptcy court.

“These bankruptcy courts would face a serious and, in many cases, debilitating workload crisis if these temporary judgeships were to expire,” wrote James C. Duff, as secretary of the Judicial Conference. “The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, for example, would be crippled as five of their six authorized judgeships are temporary, all with the risk of expiring in 2017.”

Other affected court districts are the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida, the Eastern District of Michigan, the Eastern District of North Carolina, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Districts of Maryland, Nevada and Puerto Rico. 

Nationally, federal court bankruptcies have declined in recent years, but the letter noted that the affected districts have, since 2005, seen a 55 percent increase in weighted case filings, a measurement that takes into account the complexity of cases.

The recommendation of the Judicial Conference was delivered to House and Senate leadership, House and Senate Judiciary Committee chairs and ranking members, as well as to the chair and ranking member of the relevant subcommittees.

The Judicial Conference is the policy-making body for the federal court system.  It is composed of 26 judges from around the country, and the Chief Justice of the United States is the body’s presiding officer.

Bankruptcy Judgeship Recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States
  Arranged by Judicial District (Alphabetical order)
District Current Authorized* Additional Permanent Conversion Resulting Authorization
Delaware 1P, 5T 2 5 8 Permanent
Florida, Middle 8P 1   9 Permanent
Florida, Southern 5P, 2T   2 7 Permanent
Maryland 4P, 3T   1 5 Permanent
Michigan, Eastern 4P, 1T 1 1 6 Permanent
Nevada 3P, 1T   1 4 Permanent
North Carolina, Eastern 2P, 1T   1 3 Permanent
Puerto Rico 2P, 2T   2 4 Permanent
Virginia, Eastern 5P, 1T   1 6 Permanent
Total   4 14  

*P = Permanent Judgeship
T = Temporary Judgeship

Related Topics: Judges & Judgeships, Legislation