Judgepedia:Writing the Federal Courts, Empty Benches weekly article

From Judgepedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Writing articles
Writing guidelines image.png
Help Desk

General judge articles
Federal judges
State judges
State courts
Elections
State judicial decisions

Judgepedia policies

CheatsheetCommunity




Federal Courts, Empty Benches is a weekly news article covering the vacancy levels in the federal courts. It began on April 6, 2011 and is published every Wednesday.

The following guidelines lay out how to construct the Federal Courts, Empty Benches weekly article.

Timeline

  • Thursday through Monday: Update any judges that assume senior status, pass away or retire; update any nominees that are confirmed; and build pages for anyone that is nominated to a judgeship. The complex procedure checklist can be found here.
  • Tuesday: Check all sites relevant to transitions, nominations and confirmations; and build the weekly article in a sandbox.
  • Wednesday: Finalize the vacancy map, and upload it to Judgepedia. Do a final proofreading before posting.
[edit]

FederalVacancy yellow.png
Key:
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
0%0%-10%
10%-25%25%-40%
More than 40%


January 8, 2014

By Courtney Collins

This week's Federal Courts, Empty Benches: The Wednesday Vacancy Count includes nominations, confirmations and vacancies from December 18, 2013 to January 7, 2014. Nominations, confirmations and vacancies occurring on January 8th will be reflected in the January 15th report.

The vacancy warning level remained at yellow this week after five new vacancies and no new confirmations. The vacancy percentage rose to 10.8%. Prior to the end of 2013, President Barack Obama nominated 10 new candidates. On January 3, 2014, those 10 new nominees and 45 nominees still waiting for confirmation were returned. There was one nominee, Robert Leon Wilkins, who was held over, which means he does not have to be renominated. On January 6th, President Barack Obama renominated all but one of his previous nominees. This raised the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation to 55. The number of vacancies of Article III judges rose to 93 out of 865. A breakdown of the vacancies on each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, see our Federal Court Vacancy Warning System.

Vacancies by court

Court # of Seats Vacancies
Supreme Court 9 0% or no vacancies
Appeals Courts 179 9.5% or 17 vacancies
District Courts 677 11.2% or 76 vacancies
All Judges 865 10.8% or 93 vacancies

New confirmations

Middle District of Florida

Brian J. Davis

On December 20, 2013, Brian J. Davis was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to a seat on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida on a vote of 68-26. Davis was confirmed 660 days after his first nomination in February of 2012. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson:
I just want to thank the Senate in advance for giving this good man, this excellent jurist, the opportunity to serve in a greater capacity... This is a great Christmas present for me, but it's nothing like the Christmas present it will be for Judge Brian Davis and his family.[1][2]

Davis' confirmation to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida removes one of the two vacancies on the court. The vacancy warning level fell from yellow to blue.

FederalVacancy Blue.png


New vacancies

Fifth Circuit

Carolyn King

Carolyn King assumed senior status December 31, 2013, after 34 years on the bench. King was nominated by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.[3] In 2006, she won the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award. The transition creates the third vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The vacancy warning level remains at yellow.
FederalVacancy yellow.png


Middle District of Louisiana

James J. Brady

On December 31, 2013, James J. Brady assumed senior status after 13 years on the bench. Brady was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 2000. In a 2013 ruling, he ruled that Ann Williams, owner of Ann's Tax Service, was permanently prohibited from preparing federal taxes. The government estimated that $2.2 million dollars was lost from taxes prepared by Williams. Brady's transition creates the only vacancy on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. The vacancy warning level rose from green to orange.
FederalVacancy orange.png


Northern District of Illinois

James Holderman

James Holderman assumed senior status on December 31, 2013, after 28 years on the bench. Holderman was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Holderman is known for presiding over parts of the Rod Blagojevich trials. Holderman allowed the release of incriminating recordings of Governor Blagojevich. His transition creates a second vacancy on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The vacancy warning level remaines at blue.
FederalVacancy Blue.png


District of Utah

Dee Benson

On January 1, 2014, Dee Benson assumed senior status. Benson was nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1991. In 2011, Benson ruled in a case involving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints(FLDS) and their multi-million dollar trust. Benson's ruling to give control back to the FLDS from the State of Utah was circumvented by the Third Circuit. This led Benson to call the presiding judge, Denise Lindberg, in for an explanation. When Lindberg declined, Benson threatened to have U.S. Marshals force her to appear. The transition creates the only vacancy on United States District Court for the District of Utah. The vacancy warning level rose from green to yellow.
FederalVacancy yellow.png


Western District of Missouri

Fernando Gaitan

Fernando Gaitan assumed senior status on January 3, 2014, after 22 years. Gaitan was nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1991. His transition created the second vacancy on the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The vacancy warning level rose from yellow to orange.
FederalVacancy orange.png


Renominations

On January 6, 2014, President Barack Obama renominated 54 past nominees, whose nominations were returned on January 3,2014.[4] There was one candidate who was not renominated, William Thomas. Thomas would have been the first black, openly gay federal judge. His confirmation process was blocked by Senator Marco Rubio, who refused to turn in his blue slip.[5] The list of candidates who were renominated is:

New nominations

Fifth Circuit

Gregg Costa

On December 19, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Gregg Costa to be elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.[6] Costa is currently a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He earned his B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1994 and his J.D. from the University of Texas in 1999. Costa was rated Unanimously Well Qualified by the American Bar Association.[7] The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit currently has two vacancies, and the warning level is set at yellow.
FederalVacancy yellow.png


Eleventh Circuit

Julie Carnes

On December 19, 2013, Julie Carnes was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The vacancy was created when James L. Edmondson took senior status in 2012. Carnes is currently the chief judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, a position she has served in since 2009.[8] Carnes earned her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Georgia in 1972 and 1975, respectively. She was rated Unanimously Well Qualified for the position by the American Bar Association.[7] There are currently four vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the vacancy warning level is currently set at orange.
FederalVacancy orange.png


On the circuit nominations

On the December 13, 2013 nominations of Gregg Costa and Julie Carnes:

Judges Carnes and Costa have displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers... I am honored to nominate them today to serve the American people on the United States Courts of Appeals. I am confident that they will be judicious and esteemed additions to the Eleventh and the Fifth Circuits.

[2]

—President Barack Obama[6]

District of Arizona

James A. Soto

Soto was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on the United States District Court for the District of Arizona on December 19, 2013. The vacancy was created by David Bury when he took senior status. Soto is currently a judge on the Santa Cruz County Superior Court in Arizona. He has been a superior court judge since 2001. Soto earned his B.S. and J.D. from Arizona State University in 1971 and 1975, respectively.[9] Soto was rated Unanimously Qualified by the American Bar Association.[7] The United States District Court for the District of Arizona currently has six vacancies out of its thirteen posts, and the vacancy warning level is set to red.
FederalVacancy red.png


District of Massachusetts

Leo Sorokin

On December 19, 2013, Sorokin was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.[9] The vacancy was created when Joseph Tauro assumed senior status on September 26, 2013. Sorokin is currently a federal magistrate judge for the District of Massachusetts. Sorokin earned his B.A. from Yale in 1983 and his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1991. He was rated Unanimously Well Qualified for the position by the American Bar Association.[7] The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts currently has three vacancies, and the vacancy warning level is currently set at yellow.
FederalVacancy yellow.png


District of Columbia

Tanya S. Chutkan

President Barack Obama nominated Tanya S. Chutkan to fill a vacancy on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on December 19, 2013. Chutkan is currently a partner at the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP. She earned her B.A. from the George Washington University in 1983 and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1987.[9] The American Bar Association rated Chutkan Unanimously Qualified for the position. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia currently has two vacancies, and the warning level is set at yellow.
FederalVacancy yellow.png


Northern District of Georgia

Mark Howard Cohen

On December 19, 2013, Mark Howard Cohen was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The vacancy was created when Clarence Cooper took senior status in 2009. Cohen is currently a litigation partner at Troutman Sanders LLP. He earned his B.A. and J.D. from Emory University in 1976 and 1979, respectively.[9] The American Bar Association rated Cohen Majority Qualified, Minority Well Qualified for the position.[7] The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia currently has three vacancies and a warning level of orange.
FederalVacancy orange.png


Michael P. Boggs

President Barack Obama nominated Michael P. Boggs to fill a vacancy on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The vacancy will be created if Julie Carnes is elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Boggs is currently a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals. He earned his from B.A. Georgia Southern College in 1985 and his J.D. from Mercer University in 1990. The American Bar Association rated Boggs Substantial Majority Well Qualified, Minority Qualified.[7] The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia currently has three vacancies and a warning level of orange.
FederalVacancy orange.png


Eleanor L. Ross

Eleanor L. Ross was nominated by President Barack Obama to a fill a vacancy on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on December 19, 2013. The vacancy was created when Charles Pannell took senior status. Ross is currently a judge of the DeKalb County State Court. Ross earned her B.A. from the American University in 1989 and her J.D. from the University of Houston in 1994.[9] Ross was rated Majority Qualified, Minority Not Qualified by the American Bar Association.[7]

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia currently has three vacancies, and a warning level of orange.

FederalVacancy orange.png


Leigh Martin May

On December 19, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Leigh Martin May to fill a vacancy on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The vacancy was created when Beverly Martin was elevated to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. May is currently a partner at Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer LLP. She earned her B.S. from the Georgia Institute of Technology, graduating with honors in 1993, and her J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law, graduating magna cum laude in 1988.[9] Ross was rated Unanimously Qualified by the American Bar Association.[7] The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia currently has three vacancies and a warning level of orange.
FederalVacancy orange.png


On the district nominations

On the December 19, 2013 district court nominations:

I am honored to put forward these highly qualified candidates for the federal bench... They will be distinguished public servants and valuable additions to the United States District Courts.

[2]

—President Barack Obama[9]

Weekly map

The weekly map is updated every week and posted here and on the vacancy warning level analysis page.

ForwardBackVwlmap1-8-2014.png

See also

References

JP donation button.jpg


Join Our Mailing List
Email:
For Email Marketing you can trust


Key:
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
0%0%-10%
10%-25%25%-40%
More than 40%

The introduction should include the following:

  • At the top of the page, the VC header in the appropriate color [Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange or Red] according to the vacancy key
  • The date, linked in an h3
  • The name of the writer, linked to their profile page, in bold
  • A brief section on what dates the vacancy count covers, in italics
  • A summary of the week's changes, including number of nominations, confirmations and transitions
This section can be copied and updated weekly


{{VC Header COLOR}}
===[[cYEAR#MONTH|DATE]]===
'''By [[User:CCollins|Courtney Collins]]'''
===[[c2014#January|January 8, 2014]]===
'''By [[User:CCollins|Courtney Collins]]'''

''This week's Federal Courts, Empty Benches: The Wednesday Vacancy Count includes nominations, confirmations and vacancies from December 18, 2013 to January 7, 2014. Nominations, confirmations and vacancies occurring on January 8th will be reflected in the January 13th report.''

The [[Federal Court Vacancy Warning System|vacancy warning level]] remained at <span style="background-color:#PROPRER HEX CODE;">COLOR</span> this week after [NUMBER] new vacancy(ies) and [NUMBER] new confirmation(s). The vacancy percentage [rose to/fell to/remained at] [PERCENT]. There were [NUMBER] new nomination(s) this week, allowing the total number of nominees waiting for confirmation to [rise to/fall to/remaine at] [NUMBER]. The number of vacancies of [[Article III]] judges [fell to/rose to/remained at] [NUMBER] out of 865. A breakdown of the vacancies on each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies on the federal courts, see our [[Federal Court Vacancy Warning System]].

Key:
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
0%0%-10%
10%-25%25%-40%
More than 40%

After the introduction is the vacancies by court section. This small section contains a table showing the vacancies by court. The first column lists the Supreme Court, Appeals Courts, District Courts and All Judges. The second column lists the total number of seats on each of the courts in the first column. In the final column, the number of vacancies and the percentage this represents is shown, and the background color should match the vacancy key using the following hex codes:#66ff00, #00ccff, #ffff66, #ff9900, and #ff3300.

{|style="border: 1px solid black;" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="0"  bgcolor=#000000
|-
|bgcolor="#ffffff" align="center"|Court
|bgcolor="#ffffff" align="center"|# of Seats
|bgcolor="#ffffff" align="center"|Vacancies
|-
|-
|bgcolor="#ffffff"|[[Supreme Court of the United States|Supreme Court]]
|bgcolor="#ffffff" align="center"|9
|bgcolor="#PROPER HEX CODE"|[PERCENT] or [NUMBER] vacancy(ies)
|-
|bgcolor="#ffffff"|[[United States court of appeals|Appeals Courts]]
|bgcolor="#ffffff" align="center"|179
|bgcolor="#PROPER HEX CODE"|[PERCENT] or [NUMBER] vacancy(ies)
|-
|bgcolor="#ffffff"|[[United States district court|District Courts]]
|bgcolor="#ffffff" align="center"|677
|bgcolor="#PROPER HEX CODE"|[PERCENT] or [NUMBER] vacancy(ies)
|-
|bgcolor="#ffffff"|[[Article III|All Judges]]
|bgcolor="#ffffff" align="center"|865
|bgcolor="#PROPER HEX CODE"|[PERCENT] or [NUMBER] vacancy(ies)
|}

Key:
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
0%0%-10%
10%-25%25%-40%
More than 40%

The Vacancy Count is broken down into new vacancies, new nominations and new confirmations. Each section in the count should take 30 minutes to construct and proof and is organized as such:

==New vacancies/confirmations/nominations==
===District/Circuit vacancy/confirmation/nomination occurred in===
====Name of person====
{|
|-
| Body of text summarizing the judge vacating, nominated or confirmed to the position. His/her transition created/removed a vacancy leaving [NUMBER] number of vacancies on the [[NAME OF COURT]]. This changes the vacancy warning level from <span style="background-color:#PROPER HEX CODE;">[PAST COLOR]</span> to <span style="background-color:#PROPER HEX CODE;">[CURRENT COLOR]</span>.
|{{VWL COLOR}}
|}

The hex codes needed for the above section are: #66ff00, #00ccff, #ffff66, #ff9900, and #ff3300

Key:
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
0%0%-10%
10%-25%25%-40%
More than 40%

The construction of the weekly vacancy map requires a program such as GIMP, a free downloadable image editing program, or Photoshop, a commercial image editing tool. The blank or most current file should be provided to you; if not, contact Heidi Straka or Katy Farrell. The map breaks down the United States into all of the United States District Courts and contains a United States Courts of Appeals key. Each district is colored to match the vacancy warning level. The colors are as follows: #66ff00, #00ccff, #ffff66, #ff9900, and #ff3300. The map from the previous week can be used and updated according to any changes that have occurred. The naming of the map should always be Vwlmap(month)-(day)-(year), so the January 22, 2014 vacancy map would read Vwlmap1-22-2014. The vacancy map should be saved at 800x600 resolution and uploaded using the Special:Upload page. Along with uploading the file, you should also add the following code and wording to the file's page.

{{pd|link = http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Court_of_Appeals_and_District_Court_map.svg}} 
It was altered and edited for use by Judgepedia staff. 
[[Category:Federal district map images]]

Add the following templates to the talk page of the image:

{{wfed}}
{{wimages}}

After the image is uploaded, it should be placed on the vacancy warning page in the following table. The rect 2 472 197 595 line should be changed to redirect to the previous week's vacancy count.

<table width="99%"><tr><td><imagemap>
Image:Vwlmap1-22-2014.png|left|600px

rect 607 477 797 589 [[Federal Court Vacancy Warning System|Forward]]
rect 2 472 197 595 [[Federal Courts, Empty Benches: The Wednesday Vacancy Count [PREVIOUS VACANCY COUNT DATE]#Weekly map|Back]]

desc none
</imagemap></td></tr></table>


Key:
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
0%0%-10%
10%-25%25%-40%
More than 40%

Along with the building of the Vacancy Report there are a few pages that need to be updated along with the posting of the Federal Courts, Empty Benches article. The Federal Vacancy Warning System is an overview page for the vacancy count, and there are two things that need to be updated each week.
The first thing on this page that needs to be updated is the weekly map on the first tab of the page. This map is updated the same way as the table in the map section of the weekly report.
The second section to be updated is on the 113th Congress timeline tab. A new section should be added at the bottom of the timeline that reflects the changes to the federal vacancy warning level. In the change from last week column, any negative changes should be RED any positive changes should be green and if there were no changes should have no colored background.

The hex codes used for this section are as follows:#66ff00, #00ccff, #ffff66, #ff9900, and #ff3300

|-
|  align="center"| [[Federal Courts, Empty Benches: The Wednesday Vacancy Count 1/22/2014|1/22/2014]]
|  <span style="background-color:#[HEX CODE FOR RED OR GREEN];">{NUMBER NEW VACANCIES}</span> and [NUMBER OF NEW JUDGES] = <span style="background-color:[HEX CODE FOR RED OF GREEN];">[NUMBER OF CHANGE IN JUDGES]</span> Change
| align="center" bgcolor="#[PROPER HEX CODE]"| [NUMBER and PERCENT]
| align="center" bgcolor="#[PROPER HEX CODE]"| [NUMBER and PERCENT]
| align="center" bgcolor="#[PROPER HEX CODE]"| [NUMBER and PERCENT]

Example with table header:

Date Change from last week Appellate and Supreme Court Vacancies (% of Posts) District Court Vacancies (% of Posts) Total Vacancies (% of Posts)
1/22/2014 -1 and +0 = -1 Change 16 (8.9%) 79 (11.7%) 95 (11.0%)

The final updates needed are to the Template:Vacancy site notice. The only line of code that needs to be changed on the template is the line:

'''Wednesday: [[Federal Courts, Empty Benches: The Wednesday Vacancy Count 1/22/2014|Judgepedia's "Federal Courts, Empty Benches" Update]]'''

The date in this line needs to be changed to the most current vacancy count. Once this template is updated, the template {{Vacancy site notice}}, should be added to the page MediaWiki:Sitenotice. Adding this template to the MediaWiki page will place the template on every page of the wiki.

As well as the site notice the Template:Federal courts slideshow portal must be updated with the most recent information. You will add a line of text in the template for each vacancy count the is produced. The line of code is:
{{SlideshowSlide | image=Vwlmap5-7-2014.png |title=Vacancy Warning System|caption=May 7, 2014}}
The most recent map image should be placed in the |image = perimeter and the |caption= perimeter should reflect the date of the image and vacancy count that corresponds. The new slide should be added to the top of the list and the bottom most slide should be removed keeping the number of slides at five.