Judicial emergency may be on the horizon in the Western District of Texas

For many lawyers around the country, an ever increasing frustration is the problem with the inability of the Court's to get important cases - our cases - to trial in in federal court.  This is largely due to the two factors: (1) the (in my humble opinion) ill-advised federalization of virtually all but the smallest drug crimes; and (2) the inability of Congress to act in a professional manner and confirm federal judges to the bench - regardless of which party is in control.  

The problem here in the Western District of Texas is getting to be extreme.  According to a recent article, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, chief judge of the Western District of Texas, is speaking out about the issue.  In a recent filing, he states that while his jurisdiction has not yet reached a judicial emergency because of its giant criminal docket, it’s getting pretty close. Biery said as much in a concurrence he filed Feb. 8.

Biery writes:

“In 2010, the eleven active judges of the Western District of Texas, spread over 90,000 square miles, had 8,738 felony defendants and 3,080 civil cases added to their dockets, a weighted average of 754 compared to the national average of 490 cases per judge, a ratio not unlike other border courts.... While it is not yet necessary to declare a judicial emergency in the Western District of Texas, that option approaches on the horizon with all of the additional costs of housing prisoners and delay in the resolution of civil cases.”

 

Read the entire story by John Council at Texas Lawyer's Tex Parte Blog.