If you are a practicing attorney in California, you’ve seen what the budget apocalypse has done to the state courts. Some courthouses have closed in the name of “consolidation,” case numbers no longer match the courts, and lawyers and clients are driving all over Los Angeles before finding the correct venue.
The Federal system isn’t in quite as much distress, but it isn’t exactly thriving either. Sequestration measures are wreaking havoc on certain services provided by the judicial branch. A news release from the Ninth Circuit on Wednesday stated the problem as:
"Courtroom operations, public information services, representation by federal defenders and staffing of pretrial and probation services have all been negatively affected. The [Federal Judges Association] has also sought to draw attention to judicial vacancies, which currently number almost 10 percent of the 874 seats on federal district and circuit courts."
Judge Margaret McKeown is going to have her work cut out for her. The press release also noted that the appellate court judge is going to take over the post as president of the Federal Judges Association.
The FJA is essentially a lobbying organization that represents the interests and independence of the Article III courts. It is comprised of nearly 1,000 volunteer judges and advocates for such issues as fair judicial pay, adequate funding for the courts, and filling judicial vacancies.
Judge McKeown addressed her herculean task in the press release as well. "The FJA recognizes that these are difficult times for the judiciary. Budget cuts, confirmation delays and judges leaving the bench for financial reasons - all of these strain our judicial system. Through the FJA, judges are able to speak with one voice about these and other critically important issues."
The long-serving judge has been on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals since her appointment by President Bill Clinton in 1998. She has also served as a board member of the FJA and has been active in a number of other judicial committees.
- California Courts' Budget: Apocalypse Soon? (FindLaw's Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog)
- 9th Circuit: Final L.A. Dist. Court Vacancy Filled by O'Connell (FindLaw's Ninth Circuit Blog)
- Details on 9th Circuit's New Appellate Mentoring Program (FindLaw's Ninth Circuit Blog)