Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years.
His mini-vacation didn't work out so well. As a federal judge on a busy California court in Fresno, O'Neill works up to 75 hours a week and at least one full day every weekend -- and that's just to keep up with his regular caseload. He ended up leaving Napoleon dynamite essays but worked the entire holiday weekend: Nobody should have to do that.
That's because federal courts are full of vacancies that aren't being filled by the Senate, and Congress hasn't created new judgeships in many states for decades, despite skyrocketing caseloads. Litigants are waiting years for their civil cases to be heard because criminal cases take precedence.
Judges are struggling with burnout.
And many courts are relying on semi-retired judges just to stay afloat. The Huffington Post talked to half a dozen federal judges about how court vacancies and the lack of new judgeships affect their workloads.
All of them said they feel like they're underwater and desperately need more judges, but at the same time, they aren't comfortable calling out Congress for failing to do its job. Many didn't feel it appropriate for a judge to weigh in on legislative or political matters. So their situations don't change.
We've done everything you can humanly do to try to get additional judgeships.
The average federal judge takes on to cases. O'Neill has more than 1, England runs one of the most strained court systems in the country. The Eastern District is massive, encompassing more than half of California's 58 counties.
There's a seat in the Fresno division that's been vacant for more than 1, days, and that court been so slammed that England has had to started assigning judges from elsewhere in the district to come in and help.
But even if that vacancy gets filled, it's not enough. On average, a federal judge takes between and cases each year. Judges on England's court have more than 1, It would take six new judgeships on the Eastern District court to bring down the workload to an average level, according to a review of courts and their caseloads by the Judicial Conference, the federal courts' policy-making organization.
They've already been waiting sometimes three to four years," England said.Sep 30, · The people hearing your cases are drowning in work because the Senate isn't filling vacancies.
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