Ninth Circuit annual judicial conference in Hawaii draws questions from U.S. Senators over cost
Washington, D.C.: Senate Budget Committee member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Senate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals demanding answers regarding the expected cost of the circuit's four-day annual conference scheduled in Hawaii this year.
In the letter, Senator Sessions and Grassley question the cost of the conference in the face of financial cost constraints that federal agencies are facing. They point the $230-$250 cost per night per room for an estimated 700 guests at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, where the conference is scheduled; the non-business related activities scheduled before the conference, like surfing lessons and a tennis tournament; and the anticipated cost of flight to the island, which they estimate would be at least $9,000 for the 12 circuit judges out of Montana alone. The senators demanded detailed historical cost information on past conferences and answers on a wide variety of questions related to the currently scheduled conference by June 15.
In a brief initial response on the conference website, Circuit and Court of Appeals Executive Cathy A. Catterson writes:
As part of the Third Branch of government, the Ninth Circuit is fully aware of its responsibilities as a steward of public funds. The conference is authorized by law "for the purpose of considering the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit." [§ 28 U.S.C. Sec. 333] The conference fully adheres to these goals, providing an exceptional educational program and the opportunity to conduct numerous business meetings that further circuit governance. Judges and other attendees take seriously their obligation to participate fully in the conference. Costs for lodging and air travel to attend the conference are comparative to those found at mainland venues. Any sporting and recreational activities are paid for by individuals and are not reimbursable.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, as well as the territories of Guam and the Northern Marina Islands.
For more information on Senator Sessions and Grassley questions, view their letter.
For more information on the 2012 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, schedule for August 13-16, visit the conference website.
- ↑ The Wall Street Journal: Law Blog, "Senators Question Ninth Circuit over Hawaii Conference," May 21, 2012
- ↑ Hawaii News Now, "Judges conference in Maui scrutinized," May 21, 2012
- ↑ Reuters, "Republicans challenge appeals court meeting in Maui," May 21, 2012
- ↑ Senator Jeff Sessions and Senator Chuck Grassley, Letter to the Honorable Alex Kozinski, May 18, 2012
- ↑ Office of the Circuit Executive (United States Court of the Ninth Circuit), "2012 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference"