Press Releases

Senate Approves Additional Judgeship to Ninth Circuit

- New judge to be assigned to California seat -

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) today announced that the U.S. Senate has approved legislation to add a new judgeship to the Ninth Circuit, which is experiencing a judicial emergency so severe that judges have the highest caseload in the nation. 

Senators Feinstein and Kyl co-sponsored an amendment to the Court Security Improvement Act to transfer a judgeship from the District of Columbia Circuit to the Ninth Circuit.  The Court Security bill was approved Monday evening by the Senate. 

“This legislation will meet an urgent need by adding a new Ninth Circuit judgeship in California.  California needs more judges.  Transferring a judgeship from the D.C. Circuit to the Ninth Circuit for California would be the first step toward making this happen,” Senator Feinstein said.  “The Senate has recognized that it makes sense to take a judgeship from where it is needed least, and put it in California where it is needed most.”

“The Ninth Circuit, which serves Arizona and the Western states, has the largest caseload and backlog, despite a full complement of active judges,” said Senator Kyl.  “This affects Arizonans who have to wait to have their lawsuits resolved.  Plaintiffs who have been injured, criminal defendants seeking reviews of their conviction, and victims who are waiting for justice; for these people, justice delayed in justice denied.  This new seat will help alleviate the delays of the Ninth Circuit.”


According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, there were 107 appeals filed per judge in the D.C. Circuit in 2006, and 523 filings per judge in the Ninth Circuit.  Those numbers break down to approximately five times more filings per judge in the Ninth Circuit than in the D.C. Circuit.  The national average in 2006 was 399 filings per judge, placing the D.C. Circuit far below the average and the Ninth Circuit well above the average.

In addition, there were 1,853 pending appeals per panel in the Ninth Circuit – the highest number of any circuit in the nation.  And there were 387 pending appeals per panel in the D.C. Circuit – the lowest number out of all twelve circuits.

California is hit hardest by the inadequate number of judgeships on the Ninth Circuit.  In 2005, 10,000 federal appeals, or 70 percent of the circuit’s total docket, were filed in California.  Yet only 50 percent of the Ninth Circuit’s judgeships – 14 out of 28 judges – are assigned to California.