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A project tracking federal judicial nominations and courts.


Judging the Environment In The News

Links to Articles, Editorials, Commentary, Blogs, Radio and TV about the Judging the Environment project
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Wheels of justice slow at overloaded federal courts (Associated Press, 09/27/15)
"Across the country, federal district courts have seen a rise in recent years in the time it takes to get civil cases to trial and resolve felony criminal cases as judges' workloads have increased, according to statistics from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The problem is particularly acute in some federal courts such as California's and Texas's Eastern Districts. Judges there have workloads about twice the national average and say they are struggling to keep up. The result, the judges and attorneys say, is longer wait times in prison for defendants awaiting trial, higher costs for civil lawsuits and delays that can render those suits moot.... Legal scholars say Congress needs to fill judicial vacancies more quickly but also increase the number of judges in some districts — both issues that get bogged down in partisan political fights over judicial nominees. California's Eastern District, which covers a large swath of the state that includes Sacramento and Fresno, has had an unfilled judicial vacancy for nearly three years, and it has the same number of judicial positions — six — it had in 1978, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The Judicial Conference of the United States, the national policy-making body for the federal courts, has recommended Congress double the number of judicial positions in the district. In the late 1990s, the median time for civil cases to go to trial in the district averaged 2 years and four months. From 2009 to 2014, that number jumped by more than a year."

More judgeships in the SDFLA? (Southern District of Florida Blog, 03/17/15)
“The U.S. Courts Judicial Conference is recommending 3 more judgeship in our District. From the press release: … H/T Glenn Sugameli”

Filling the District of Arizona Vacancies (Arizona Law Review, 02/24/14)
Carl Tobias: "I wish to thank Peggy Sanner and Glenn Sugameli for valuable suggestions"

Nonpartisan Judgeship Plan Meets Partisan Senate Debate over D.C. Circuit (Congressional Quarterly, 08/19/13)
The “one source of impartial expertise” on court caseloads is the Judicial Conference, said Glenn Sugameli, a staff attorney with the environmental advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife ...l. The Republican proposal to shrink the D.C. Circuit ignores the conference’s nonpartisan recommendations and is a partisan attempt to prevent Obama’s nominees from being confirmed, Sugameli said, calling the plan “absurd on its face.” ... “I don’t know what people like Cornyn and Cruz and Flake are going to do,” Sugameli said. “They have severe needs in their states.”

President Obama moves to fill the 9th Circuit Court  (Represent! Blog: 89.3 KPCC: Southern California Public Radio, 08/02/13)
Kitty Felde" Glenn Sugameli, senior attorney of Defenders of Wildlife and a federal court observer says "filling both seats is necessary, but is not enough to ensure that justice delayed does not continue to be justice denied.""

Judicial happenings (Southern District of Florida Blog, 08/01/13)
Glenn Sugameli breaks the news again about federal judgeships: A) New future vacancy raises US total to 101 current and future vacancies B) Major bill to create 91 new federal judgeships, including many in FL How will this bill affect us: Permanent judgeships: • 3 additional district judgeships for the southern district of Florida; • 5 additional district judgeships for the middle district of Florida; • 1 additional district judgeship for the northern district of Florida; Temporary judgeships: • 1 additional district judgeship for the middle district of Florida; Permanent status to temporary judgeships: • 1 in the southern district of Florida;

Senators must push for judges (Yuma Sun [AZ] , 04/10/12)
Glenn Sugameli letter: "The Yuma Sun's April 1 editorial (“District courts need long-term help”) aptly notes that “technically there is no longer (a statewide) ‘emergency' in the U.S. District Court system in Arizona, but in reality there is.” Indeed, both vacant Arizona district judgeships and all four empty 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seats are still among 34 vacancies that the U.S. courts have officially designated as “judicial emergencies.” A solution depends upon Arizona's Republican U.S. senators, Jon Kyl and John McCain. They are responsible for what the editorial refers to as one of President Obama's nominees who “has been hung up in Congress.” Sens. Kyl and McCain must help identify a nominee for Arizona's other district vacancy and convince their GOP colleagues to allow floor votes on other nominations. These include Arizona Supreme Court Justice Andrew Hurwitz's 9th Circuit nomination, which they strongly support. As the editorial states, court officials explain that Arizona “needs far more” than the currently authorized 13 district court judgeships. Arizona's senators could also push the Emergency Judicial Relief Act they sponsored which would create more judgeships in Arizona and other border states."

Allow floor votes  (Amarillo Globe-News [TX], 03/17/12)
Glenn Sugameli Letter: "John Kanelis aptly said that “Whoever replaces (Maine U.S. Sen. Olympia) Snowe or her soon-to-depart colleagues could rip the Senate further apart and create an even greater schism among lawmakers. Or the new senators could restore some of the art of the legislating.” Indeed, current senators could begin now to restore legislating in a rare area where agreement was already achieved months ago. Texans would benefit if Senate Republicans agreed to allow floor votes on many judicial nominees whom the highly polarized Judiciary Committee approved unanimously back in 2011. Inexplicably delayed district judge nominees include Gregg J. Costa and David C. Guaderrama, who were jointly recommended by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, both R-Texas, to fill two of 34 court-declared judicial emergency vacancies. Texas federal courts are so overwhelmed and backlogged that immediate bipartisan action is needed in two other areas. First, Cornyn and Hutchison can push for action on their May 2011 bipartisan bill to create new judgeships in Texas and other border states. Second, they should quickly identify consensus nominees for seven other Texas federal trial and appellate court judgeships, six of which are also designated judicial emergencies."

Texas crisis complex (San Antonio Express-News [TX] , 07/09/11)
Glenn Sugameli, Letter To the Editor: "Martin's invaluable column contains one mistake; Texas' two senators do not “have a constitutional right to block presidential nominees in the Senate.” Ironically, Sen. John Cornyn insisted that the Senate must “provide the up-or-down vote the U.S. Constitution demands” on judicial nominees even though he later voted to filibuster President Obama's appellate and district court nominees. In context, Martin's description of the “six remaining judicial vacancies” and the accompanying Express-News editorial asking for a swifter move to confirm Obama nominees and fill two seats that lack nominations, were entirely appropriate. The Texas “justice delayed is justice denied” crisis, however, is broader. As Martin previously reported, Cornyn and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison recently co-sponsored a bill to create more judgeships in the Texas border area."

COURTS: Confirmation shifts 4th Circuit toward Democrats' appointees  (Greenwire, 11/10/09)
Mountaintop removal case shows need to fill 4th Circuit vacancies: "Only about half of the court voted in this case," said Glenn Sugameli, a staff attorney with Defenders of Wildlife. "The point of an en banc rehearing is to allow the full court to weigh in on a matter, and the fact that you have this many vacancies and this many recusals on such a significant case shows how the process isn't working." Wilkinson's minority opinion suggests the potential for similar cases to have a different outcome with new additions to the court, Sugameli said. "All you need is to get to seven. Three new judges could make a difference, let alone five," he said.

Posted Comment on Wall Street Journal Editorial (Wall Street Journal, 10/15/09)
"Leahy's Bench Press: Senate Democrats try to pack the federal courts," (Review & Outlook, Oct. 12) misstates and omits key facts. As of Oct. 12, there were 19 announced judicial nominations, not 16 (there are 20 now), and they included a Second Circuit nominee, Judge Denny Chin. It is true that “Congress hasn't passed major legislation to address the logjam on the federal bench since 1990,” but the editorial omits the context. Then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Biden did not delay the effective date of the bill, and President George H.W. Bush thanked Biden for giving him 85 new judgeships to fill. The editorial cites Utah Republican Orrin Hatch’s cosponsorship of the 2008 version of the current Federal Judgeship Act, but ignores his reasons: the Senate should create new judgeships “without political gambles or speculation about the outcome of a Presidential election . . . based on the judicial conference’s assessment of their needs, not on backroom political deals." Criticizing Senator Patrick Leahy’s “plan” ignores the fact that his 2008 and 2009 bills both implement what the Free Congress Foundation calls “the objective and unfortunately necessary, recommendation for more Federal judgeships issued by the Judicial Conference.” The editorial admits that “the need for new judges” is “urgent,” and that new judgeships “would be good for efficient justice.” Contrary to the Biden and Leahy examples, however, the editorial would delay and hence deny justice until after November 2012. -Glenn Sugameli,Staff Attorney, Judging the Environment

LETTER TO EDITOR: Unjust delay of justice (Washington Times, 10/10/09)
Defenders of Wildlife's Glenn Sugameli published letter: "Your editorial, "Democrats try to pack the courts" (Opinion, Monday), ignores and rewrites history. The Federal Judgeship Act of 2009 (S. 1653) is based upon nonpartisan recommendations by the Judicial Conference of the United States, the federal courts' policymaking body. Last year, prominent Republican senators co-sponsored a very similar bill, and the Judiciary Committee's approval included the votes of two-thirds of the committee's Republicans, including Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, and Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. In 1990, when President George H.W. Bush signed the last comprehensive judges bill, he thanked then-Senate Judiciary chairman Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, for giving him 85 new judgeships to fill. In contrast, your editorial plays politics. By urging that "new seats don't open up until after the next presidential election," it ensures that justice delayed will be justice denied in overburdened courts."