The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts designates federal judicial vacancies in courts where the current number of judges are wholly inadequate to address the court’s caseload as “judicial emergencies.” Yet, as a new issue Center for America Progress issue brief shows, fully 200 million Americans now live in a jurisdiction facing a judicial emergency:
Some of these courts have such a serious shortage of judges that they are barely able to function. In Arizona, for example, the federal trial court’s felony caseload has nearly doubled in just two years from 3,023 in 2008 to 5,219 in 2010 — causing tremendous delays for all other litigants. Similarly, in southern Texas, a federal trial judge’s criminal caseload can be nearly six times normal. According to Judge W. Royal Furgeson, this means that judges are only able to devote as much time to major trials as judges in “night traffic court” devote to small fines for minor driving offenses.