Federal Judiciary Vacancies

Photo of Benny Agosto

The federal judiciary has recently found itself in a precarious position. According to a February 8 article in the Washington Post, new bench vacancies are occurring at a rate of close to one per week, which has doubled the number of total vacancies since President Obama took office. Indeed, out of the 857 judgeships nationally, 101 sit vacant, 46 have been deemed "judicial emergencies," and around 15 more are expected to become vacant this year.

The effects of this are being felt around the country, as the shortage has forced sitting judges to pick up the slack, and in many courts, to delay trials. For instance, the three judges in the federal district that surrounds Tucson, Arizona are currently handling dockets of over 1,200 criminal cases each. In the Central District of Illinois, three of four spots are still open, which has forced the Chief Judge to commute over 90 miles to help share the burden. As delays of three years are beginning to become the norm in federal civil cases, some judges and analysts are starting to worry that people may lose faith in the rule of law.

Analysts point to several factors as the cause of this emergency. First, the glacial pace of the Senate confirmation system, and delay tactics by Republican Senators, have made placing new judges more difficult that necessary. Second, the Obama White House has been slower than previous administrations in nominating judges. When combined, these factors have accounted for the lowest number of judicial confirmations of a new President's nominees in 35 years.

However, the last few weeks have shown some promise. The White House and leaders of both parties in the Senate have agreed to bypass the procedural maneuvering that is commonly used by both sides to delay confirmations; and on February 7, the Judiciary Committee was able to approve the President's nominees for positions in Arkansas, Oregon and Texas. While the current situation remains somewhat bleak, I remain hopeful that this mess will be resolved sooner rather than later. Make sure to check back for updates as the process unfolds.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Awards & Recognition

  • 2016-2017 Equal Access to Justice Champion

    The Equal Access to Justice Champions Program was started by the Houston Bar Association in 2006, to help ensure placement of Houston Volunteer Lawyers cases with pro bono volunteers. Originally, firms were tiered according to size, and firms within each tier committed to accept a certain number of pro bono cases from HVL each year for five years.

  • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers

    The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state or region who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense trial lawyers. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase objective and uniformly applied process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum

    Established in 1993, the Million Dollar Advocates Forum (which includes the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum) is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. There are over 4000 members throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members.

  • Recognized by Best Lawyers America | Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz | 2017

    Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

  • Lead Counsel Rated

    In order to earn the Lead Counsel Rating, an attorney must not only demonstrate significant legal experience, but must also receive multiple peer recommendations advocating his or her ability. This is a key component in the screening process.

  • Texas Super Lawyers | Texas Monthly

    Each year, Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Texas via a patented multiphase selection process involving peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. The Texas lawyers who receive the highest point totals during this selection process are further recognized in Texas Super Lawyers Top Lists.

Get Your Free Case Review 713.587.9668

Let Us Help You Today! Request a Free Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented nearly 100 victims who suffered personal injuries and damages to property from a large fire and explosion resulting in a settlement of more than $50 million. The firm served as lead lawyers on the steering committee in this litigation.

  • $80 Million Personal Injury Large Plant Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 270 plaintiffs', taking a lead role in the plaintiffs' steering committee, who suffered injuries in a large plant explosion resulting in a settlement of nearly $80 million.

  • $50+ Million Personal Injury Plant Fire and Explosion

    The firm successfully represented 45 personal injury victims in a plant fire and explosion, serving on the plaintiffs' steering committee, concluding with a settlement of more than $50 million.

  • $22+ Million Personal Injury Work Site Accident

    The firm prevailed in a personal injury trial for a worksite injury client with the jury returning a verdict and resulting in a judgment of over $22 million for the firm's client.

  • $12 Million Auto Accident 18-Wheeler Collision

    The firm successfully achieved a $12 million settlement for the family of a man who died in an 18 wheeler collision.

  • $30 Million Personal Injury Burn Victims

    The firm prevailed on behalf of three burn victims with settlements totaling nearly $30 million.

Our Record Of Success.

When you are hurt and you choose a law firm to represent you in court or at the negotiation table, you need to carefully consider the firm's record.

More Success Stories