This article was originally published on March 17 in the ABA Journal here.
The Judicial Conference of the United States on Tuesday recommended that Congress create 79 new judgeships, including two on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco.
According to a March 16 press release, caseloads in the district courts increased 47% since the last major bill creating additional judgeships was enacted in 1990. The increase is based on caseloads at the end of fiscal year 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic affected case filings.
The proposal recommends creation of 77 new district court judgeships and two appellate judgeships. It also proposes that nine temporary district judgeships be converted to permanent status. The breakdown is here.
The proposal would give California the most new district court judgeships—30 in all.
The Judicial Conference is also seeking more money to increase security at courthouses. More than 53 courthouses were damaged during demonstrations last year, and the judiciary wants funding to address vulnerabilities.
U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan of the Northern District of Oklahoma, chair of the Judicial Conference’s executive committee, said during a press briefing the money would be used “to harden the entrances and first floor windows of federal courthouses nationwide, to prevent [them] from being overrun by angry mobs like happened at the Capitol.”
Congress has already provided increased funding to replace security systems at judges’ homes and to help monitor threats. The funding was approved for fiscal 2021, after a gunman went to the home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas of the District of New Jersey in July 2020, where he killed her son and seriously injured her husband. He is still recovering.
A bill introduced in the last Congress would have protected judges’ personally identifiable information on the internet. The bill wasn’t acted on before Congress adjourned, but it is expected to be introduced again this year. The Judicial Conference supported the measure.