August 31, 2017

Ninth Circuit

The ABA reiterated its opposition to splitting the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in testimony submitted for a field hearing held Aug. 24 in Phoenix, Arizona, by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. Patricia Lee Refo, a partner in the Phoenix law firm of Snell & Wilmer LLP, pointed out in the statement that a recent reexamination by the ABA of the functioning the Ninth Circuit – the largest in terms of geographic size, populations served, number of authorized judgeships, and total annual caseload – found no compelling empirical evidence of adjudicative or administrative dysfunction that warrants restructuring the Circuit. This led the ABA House of Delegates to adopt new policy this month reaffirming the association’s opposition. The new policy, Refo said, “makes it clear that the ABA believes that the Ninth Circuit’s ongoing efforts to utilize technology and procedural innovations, in large part, have enabled it to handle its caseload efficiently and maintain coherent, consistent law within the Circuit.” She also said that while there are some judges in the Ninth Circuit who support division, neither the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit nor the Judicial Conference of the United States has adopted a position favoring realignment. “Rather than revisiting ways to divide the Ninth Circuit, the ABA believes that the best way for Congress to improve the administration of justice in the Ninth Judicial Circuit is to work cooperatively with the administration to promptly fill the 20 existing vacancies on its courts (four of which are on the Court of Appeals) and four announced future vacancies, authorize new and temporary judgeships as needed, and provide concomitant resources when federal jurisdiction is expanded or national policies are implemented that result in significant increases in the work of the federal courts,” Refo maintained. She also recommended that the subcommittee refocus its efforts on assuring that the entire federal judiciary has access to the best technological resources.

 

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