Federal Courts, Empty Benches:The Wednesday Vacancy Count 1/25/2012

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January 25, 2012

By Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod

For a District by District break down, see: Federal Court Vacancy Warning System
FederalVacancy Blue.png


The current vacancy warning level for the U.S. District courts is set at Blue. Since our last report on January 11, the Senate confirmed one new judge for the district courts. 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:


Key:
(Numbers indicate % of seats vacant.)
0%0%-10%
10%-25%25%-40%
More than 40%
Supreme Court 0% or no vacancies
Appeals Courts 8.9% 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.

New confirmations

District of Nebraska

FederalVacancy Green.png


On January 23, 2012 the United States Senate confirmed John Gerrard to a post on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska with a vote of 74-16.[1] Gerrard was originally appointed by Barack Obama to the post on May 4, 2011 to fill the seat vacated by Richard Kopf. At the time of appointment, Gerrard was a judge for the Nebraska Supreme Court, and had sat on the court since 1995. He was rated Unanimously Well Qualified by the ABA. He had a hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee on September 20, 2011 and you can find his Committee Questionnaire Available Here and his Questions for the Record Available Here.[2] The confirmation lowers the vacancy warning level for the court from Orange to Green, filling the only vacancy on the court.

New vacancies

There were no new vacancies to the federal court during the past two weeks.

New appointments

On January 23, 2012 Barack Obama submitted three new nominations to the United States Senate. Two nominations were for appellate posts while one was for a district court position.

First Circuit

Obama appointed William Kayatta to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to fill the vacancy left by Kermit Lipez.[3] At the time of appointment, Kayatta was a member of the law firm of Pierce Atwood LLP, located in Portland, Maine. Born in South Portland, Maine, he attended Amherst College and earned his B.A. magna cum laude in 1976. He went on to earn his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1979. Obama commented on the nomination, stating, "I am proud to nominate these outstanding candidates to serve on the United States Court of Appeals. I am confident Judge Robert E. Bacharach and William J. Kayatta will serve the American people with integrity and distinction."[4]

Tenth Circuit

Obama appointed Robert Bacharach to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to fill the vacancy left by Robert Henry.[3] Bacharach currently serves as a magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and has served since 1999. He has also worked for a private practice firm and as an adjunct professor for the University of Oklahoma School of Law. Judge Bacharach received his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Oklahoma. He went on to earn a law degree from Washington University at St. Louis in 1985. Obama commented on the nomination, stating, "I am proud to nominate these outstanding candidates to serve on the United States Court of Appeals. I am confident Judge Robert E. Bacharach and William J. Kayatta will serve the American people with integrity and distinction."[4]

District of New Jersey

Obama appointed Judge Michael Shipp to serve on the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey to fill the vacancy left by Mary Cooper.[3] Shipp currently serves as a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey and has held that post since 2007. He has also worked in the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and as a private practice attorney. Shipp earned his B.S. from Rutgers University. He went on to attend Seton Hall University School of Law, earning his J.D. in 1994. Obama commented on the nomination, stating, "I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States District Court bench. Judge Shipp has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident he will serve on the federal bench with distinction."[5] The confirmation will fill one of the two vacancies on the court of seventeen.

See also

References