Federal judges to share courtrooms to save money
The policy-making group of judges for the federal court system meets only two times a year at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The big news out of Tuesday’s meeting was a decision for magistrate judges to share some courtrooms in an effort to save money, and for free public access to reports by judges who take a long time to decide their civil cases.
The group, called the Judicial Conference of the United States, last year adopted a policy on new courthouse construction for senior trial judges to share their courtrooms.
Chief Judge Anthony Scirica of the U.S. appeals court based in Philadelphia and the chairman of the group’s executive committee told reporters the conference voted on Tuesday to extend the courtroom sharing to federal magistrate judges.
There are more than 500 magistrate judges, who are judicial officers of each federal district court and who perform various jobs, including holding hearings and making recommendations to the district judges.
The other action by the judicial group involved making reports by judges on their long-pending civil cases available for the first time on the Internet without any charges.
The reports show all motions pending more than six months, all bench trials undecided after more than six months, and all civil cases pending more than three years. The reports are designed to reduce delays in civil litigations.
“It has an effect,” Scirica said.
He said there were about 300 requests for the reports last year under the court’s electronic records system, which charges a small user fee. Starting next year, the reports will be available for free on the judiciary’s Web site.
Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (federal court in Washington)