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Status of Article III Judgeships — Judicial Business 2018

On September 30, 2018, a total of 13 vacancies existed among the 179 judgeships authorized for the U.S. courts of appeals. Seven of these vacancies had been unfilled for more than 18 months. One year earlier, the appeals courts had 20 vacancies, 6 of them for more than 18 months.

On September 30, 2018, a total of 115 vacancies existed among the 677 positions authorized in the U.S. district courts, 5 fewer than reported at the end of 2017. Sixty-three of the vacancies had existed for more than 18 months, 3 more than one year earlier. Most of the vacancies arose when judges took senior status.

Sixty-eight judicial emergencies were identified in the courts of appeals and district courts on September 30, 2018—eight more than one year earlier. For the courts of appeals, which had 11 judicial emergencies, a judicial emergency is defined as any vacancy where adjusted filings (i.e., filings excluding reinstated cases and counting 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 and 700 per panel. For the district courts, a judicial emergency is defined as a vacancy of any duration where weighted filings per authorized judgeship exceed 600, or any vacancy longer than 18 months in a district court with weighted filings between 430 and 600 per authorized judgeship, or any vacancy in a district court with more than one authorized judgeship and only one active judge. Twenty-nine district courts had judicial emergencies at the end of the fiscal year.

In addition to active judges, 96 senior circuit judges with staff were serving the appellate courts at the end of the fiscal year, 8 more than in 2017. The U.S. district courts reported 412 senior judges with staff, 12 more than had been serving one year earlier.

For information on the status of judgeship positions since 2014, see Table 11.

Table 11
Status of Article III Judgeship Positions
September 30, 2014 - 2018
  U.S. Courts of Appeals U.S. District Courts
Year Authorized
Vacancies Senior 
Vacancies Senior 
2014 179 10 89 677 50 386
2015 179 9 84 677 58 396
2016 179 12 85 677 77 399
2017 179 20 88 677 120 400
2018 179 13 96 677 115 412
1 Senior judges who participated in appeals dispositions and were authorized for staff.
2 Senior judges authorized for staff.