Updated: Sep 13, 2021
On September 10, 2021, the FBA, San Diego Chapter sent this letter to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla regarding judicial vacancies in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California.
Senators Feinstein and Padilla,
I write on behalf of the Federal Bar Association (FBA), San Diego Chapter, to urge you to support immediately filling judicial vacancies in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. We also ask for your support regarding proposed legislation related to the judiciary.
As you may know, the FBA is a non-partisan professional association and the premier legal bar association for federal lawyers and judges in the Southern District of California. The FBA’s San Diego Chapter has over 450 members from across all federal practice areas, including criminal, civil, and bankruptcy. The FBA does not endorse or contribute to political candidates, nor does it maintain a political action committee. Similarly, the FBA does not endorse the judicial candidacies of Presidential nominees to the federal bench.
The FBA is committed to enhancing the administration of justice, which includes supporting positions that promote the functioning of our federal judicial system. With this mission in mind, we write you to address the urgent need to fill judicial vacancies within the Southern District of California. Currently, seven of the thirteen judicial seats in this district are empty. One of these judgeships has been vacant for nearly four years. As of March 2021, the Southern District of California has the second highest number of months with vacant judgeships in the state. Each vacancy in the Southern District is considered a judicial emergency with 625 weighted filings per judgeship (over 1,350 weighted filings per active district judge). A complete federal court is critical to the community it serves because it ensures access to justice and instils confidence in our legal system. Given the significance of this district and the important work judges do in ensuring the fair administration of justice for your constituents, filling these vacancies is of paramount importance.
While our members admire and respect federal judges’ diligence and hard work to decide cases in a timely manner, the dwindling number of active judges places a strain on the entire district court and community, which is compounded by the difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A complete complement of active judges is necessary to ensure prompt adjudications and justice for those appearing before the court.
We understand that considerable work goes into the nomination and vetting process, and we appreciate the efforts that you have put forth to this point. We write to emphasize the impact these pending vacancies have on the court’s ability to administer justice, and we ask that you give this concern weight when regarding the urgency to move forward with filling these vacancies.
We also ask that you consider the future of the judiciary and this district. On June 30, 2020, then FBA National President Christian K. Adams addressed the Senate Committee on the Judiciary about the urgent need to establish additional judgeships in our federal courts. In March 2021, the Judicial Conference of the United States requested the creation of 77 new district judges, including six additional permanent judgeships in the Southern District of California thereby increasing the total number of judgeships to nineteen. This underscores the persistent need within our district for a fuller complement of judges. Please support the Judicial Understaffing Delays Getting Emergencies Solved (JUDGES) Act (S. 2535) introduced in the Senate to address the shortage of judicial resources in federal courts across the country.
Finally, we emphasize that the FBA strongly supports enacting the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act (S. 2340) and protecting personally identifiable information about members of the federal judiciary. In that regard, FBA President W. West Allen wrote to leadership in the 116th Congress last fall and urged the Senate and the House to pass the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act. We echo that call for your support regarding this important issue.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We are grateful for your focus on enhancing the administration of justice through your work on judicial nominations.
Rebecca G. Church, President On Behalf of: FBA, San Diego Chapter