Another judicial vacancy is coming up, but Senators Cornyn and Cruz have shown little urgency in filling the ones that already exist
By Michelle D. Schwartz, Director of Justice Programs
Last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Junell, from the Western District of Texas, announced his plans to take senior status on February 13, 2015. That’s right, 2015. As so many federal judges have before him, Judge Junell gave plenty of notice, in order to provide enough time for a replacement to be named before he reduces his caseload.
However, Judge Junell is skeptical that 12-plus months’ notice will be sufficient. According to Jon Vanderlaan at the Odessa American, “Junell said he’s not fully confident someone will take his position in time for a seamless transition.”
That lack of confidence might be well-placed if Judge Junell had given only a few weeks’ notice. After all, it does take some time for home-state senators to identify potential nominees and make recommendations to the President, for the White House to vet those potential nominees, and for the Senate confirmation process to play out once nominations are made. But, again, Judge Junell gave more than a year’s notice—much more than enough time.
So perhaps the concern is that filling the seat won’t be a big priority because the people of West Texas can do without a full-time judge on that bench. But, with “more than 1,000 criminal defendants in 2013, the most of any judge in the Western District of Texas,” again according to the Odessa American, this bench should not remain empty for long.
How, then, to explain Judge Junell’s concerns? Read more