Federal Courts Struggling with Vacancies


The federal judicial system is struggling to cope with a backlog of cases caused by consistently high vacancy rates during the last four years, according to a report released yesterday by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Researchers analyzed data on district court vacancies and judicial workloads since 1992. Their findings suggest that sustained vacancy levels during President Barack Obama's tenure are high enough to affect the functioning of America's courts.

Obama and Congressional Republicans have sparred consistently over stalled nominations during his tenure.

As of July 1, there were 65 vacancies in district courts — which handle the vast majority of federal cases — out of a total of 677 judgeships. It's the first time since 1992 that there has been greater than 60 vacancies for five consecutive years.

Brennan Center researchers found that high vacancy levels and heavy caseloads are leaving sitting judges with unprecedented workloads.

The number of pending cases per sitting judge reached an all-time high in 2009. It was also higher in 2012 than at any time between 1992 and 2007.

Read the full report HERE.

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