Judicial Emergency Declared in Arizona

According to a story published in yesterday's Arizona Republic, Judge Roslyn O. Silver, who took the place of the late U.S. District Judge John Roll, declared a judicial emergency due to a shortage of judges in the district. The overload of cases in Arizona's federal courts is a topic Roll had discussed in the past with U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords - and one he planned to talk to her about on Jan. 8.

You can read the story here. Takeaway:

Several factors have contributed to the emergency. Federal felony caseloads are at an all-time high in Arizona amid the political clamor over tougher enforcement of border immigration and drug laws. Yet partisan wrangling in the nation's capital has slowed the flow of judicial appointments to many states, not just Arizona, leaving the federal bench overwhelmed by caseloads.

Roll's death only worsened Arizona's problem, cutting the number of federal judges in the busy Tucson division from four to three and forcing redistribution of Roll's caseload of more than 900 criminal cases and various civil matters.

Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said in a statement Tuesday that he was hopeful the emergency declaration would prompt congressional action. If Congress adds more judgeships, it will fall to Arizona's delegation to make recommendations, and be up to President Barack Obama to see those seats filled.