Yesterday, at a Brookings Institution event entitled “Breaking the Judicial Nominations Logjam,” two federal judges voiced serious concerns about current vacancies in the federal judiciary and called for quick confirmation of federal judges.
The Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Royce Lamberth, said that the overburdened docket in his court and speedy-trial rules for criminal cases meant that “we plan to try very few civil cases this spring and summer.” There are three vacancies in Judge Lamberth’s court, and two nominees—James Boasberg and Amy Jackson—both of whom were reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition, are awaiting final confirmation votes. Judge Lamberth, a Reagan appointee, also said that he encourages judges on his court to take senior status as soon as they’re eligible so their successors can be confirmed even as they continue to hear cases, thereby reducing the burden on the courts judges.
A Senior Judge from the Northern District of Texas, W. Royal Furgeson, Jr., spoke about the vacancy crisis in Texas’ federal district courts. Judge Furgeson, a Clinton appointee, said that the high volume of cases in his district reminded him of his days as a young attorney, when he represented clients in night traffic court and cases were processed like they were on an assembly line. He said that while litigants in traffic court may face a few hundred dollars in fines, the defendants in federal court could face years in prison. There are six vacancies on the federal district courts in Texas and only two nominees—Nelva Ramos and Marina Marmolejo, both of whom are pending in committee.
For more information about the event, the Brookings institution announcement is here and an interesting post from the Blog of LegalTimes is here.
For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on judicial nominations, visit the Alliance for Justice’s Judicial Selection Project webpage.