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Federal Courts, Empty Benches:The Wednesday Vacancy Count 10/12/2011

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October 12, 2011

By Joshua Meyer-Gutbrod

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

The current vacancy warning level for the U.S. Federal courts is set at Yellow and is unchanged from last week due to offsetting vacancies and confirmations, leaving 89 vacancies or approximately 10.3% 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 9.5% or 17 vacancies
District Courts 10.6% or 72 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. There are currently 51 pending appointments in the Senate leaving 43% of the vacant posts without an appointment. So far this year there have been 46 confirmations.

New confirmations

Eastern District of Louisiana

FederalVacancy Blue.png

On October 11, 2011 the United States Senate confirmed Jane Triche-Milazzo to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana with a vote of 98-0.[1] Triche-Milazzo was appointed by Barack Obama on March 16, 2011. At the time of appointment, she was serving on the 23rd Judicial District, Louisiana as a judge. She attended Nicholls State University for undergraduate and Louisiana State University for her J.D.. She fills one of the two vacancies on the court of 12, lowering the vacancy warning level from Yellow to blue.

New vacancies

Eastern District of Washington

FederalVacancy red.png

On October 1, 2011 Edward Shea assumed senior status at the age of 69 after serving on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington for 13 years. She was originally appointed on September 4, 1997 by Bill Clinton to fill the seat vacated by Alan McDonald. He attended Boston State College for undergraduate and earned his J.D. at Georgetown U. Law Center. The vacancy creates a second vacancy on the court of four raising the vacancy warning level from Yellow to Red, making it the third district in the nation to be at the highest vacancy warning level.

New appointments

Third Circuit

FederalVacancy Blue.png

On October 5, 2011 President Obama nominated Patty Shwartz to a post on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, filling the spot vacated by Maryanne Barry upon her retirement.[2] Barry assumed senior status on June 30, 2011 leaving the post vacant for 3.5 months so far. Shwartz currently serves as a a federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, a position she has held since 2003. She has also taught at the Fordham University School of Law since 2009. Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Shwartz attended Rutgers College for her undergraduate and earned her J.D. at University of Pennsylvania Law School. From 1989-2002, Schwartz served as an attorney for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. Obama commented on the nomination, stating, "Judge Shwartz has a long and impressive record of service and a history of handing down fair and judicious decisions. She will be a thoughtful and distinguished addition to the 3rd circuit and I am extremely pleased to put her forward.”[3] If confirmed, she will fill the only vacancy on the court, lowering the current vacancy warning level from blue.

See also