Federal Courts, Empty Benches:The Wednesday Vacancy Count 3/21/2012
- For a District by District break down, see: Federal Court Vacancy Warning System
The current vacancy warning level for the U.S. District courts is set at Blue. This past week, the total was not changed due to one confirmation and one new vacancy. The final tally leaves 81 vacancies or approximately 9.3% of the total Article III posts currently unfilled. The vacancy information for the various court levels is as follows:
|(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)|
|More than 40%|
|Supreme Court||0% or no vacancies|
|Appeals Courts||9% or 16 vacancies|
|District Courts||9.6% or 65 vacancies|
There are currently 9 Supreme Court posts, 179 appellate court posts and 680 district court posts for a total of 868 Article III judges. This count includes four temporary posts, one each in the Northern District of Alabama, District of Arizona, Southern District of Florida and the Central District of California. This also includes a shared post between the two Missouri districts and counts it as two posts with separate vacancies.
Central District of California
On Thursday, March 15, Michael Fitzgerald was confirmed by the United States Senate to the United States District Court for the Central District of California with a vote of 91-6.  Fitzgerald was originally appointed by Barack Obama to the post on July 20, 2011 to fill the seat vacated by Howard Matz. At the time of appointment, Fitzgerald was a partner in the law firm Corbin, Fitzgerald & Athey LLP in Los Angeles, CA. He was rated Unanimously Well Qualified by the American Bar Association. He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee on October 4, 2011 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire Available Here and his Questions for the Record Available Here. Fitzgerald is the first out gay federal judge confirmed outside of the state of New York, fourth in the nation and the third to be confirmed after a Barack Obama appointment. He is joined by J. Paul Oetken, Alison J. Nathan and Deborah Batts in the Southern District of New York. The confirmation fills one of three vacancies on the court of twenty-six, lowering the vacancy warning level from Yellow to Blue.
Eastern District of Texas
On March 17, 2012 David Folsom retired from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas after 17 years on the bench. He was originally appointed by Bill Clinton. At the time of appointment, Folsom was a private practice attorney in Texas. Folsom graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville with his Bachelor's Degree in 1969 and later graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law with a Juris Doctor Degree in 1974. He served as chief judge of the court from 2009-2012. He is known for his decision blocking the use of DVR by Dish Network, ruling that it constituted a patent infringement taking advantage of TiVo. The decision was appealed to the Fifth Circuit.  The new vacancy marks the second vacancy on the court of eight, leaving the vacancy warning level unchanged at Yellow.
There were no new appointments this past week.
- ↑ 112th Congress Confirmations
- ↑ 112th Congress Nomination Materials
- ↑ Metro Weekly, "Michael Fitzgerald, Approved on 91-6 Vote, Will Be First Out LGBT Federal Judge Outside New York" 3/15/2012
- ↑ Judge Folsom's Biography from the Federal Judicial Center.
- ↑ "Bloomberg" TiVo Seeking Almost $1 Billion in Sanctions From Dish, July 15, 2009
|This article was written by Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod, an Assistant Staff Writer for the Federal Courts Project on Judgepedia. He can be reached at joshua.meyer-gutbrod.|