August 14, 2018

Application Period Open for Magistrate Judge Vacancy on U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado

On April 14, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced a vacancy for a Magistrate Judge. The position is part-time for a term of four years and is located in Durango, Colorado. The duties of the magistrate judge are outlined in 28 U.S.C. § 636, as follows:

In criminal cases, the duties of the part-time Magistrate Judge in Durango are specified in the Western Slope protocol. They include: (1) issuance of search warrants; (2) conducting preliminary proceedings; (3) presiding over the trial and disposition of misdemeanor cases; and (4) upon reference, hearing and making recommendations on pretrial motions and, upon consent of the parties, conducting change of plea hearings and giving appropriate advisements in accordance with Fed. R. Crim. P. 11 in felony cases. In civil cases, the duties of a part-time magistrate judge include: (1) conducting various pretrial matters and evidentiary proceedings on delegation from a district judge, and (2) under certain specified conditions, trial and disposition of civil cases upon the consent of the parties.

Qualified applicants must:

  1. Be, and for the prior five years have been, a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of a state, the District of Columbia, the  Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Territory of Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, or the Virgin Islands of the United States;
  2. Have been engaged in the active practice of law for a period of at least five years (with some substitutes authorized);
  3. Be competent to perform all the duties of the office. This includes, but is not limited to being of good moral character, being emotionally stable and mature, being committed to equal justice under the law, being in good health, being patient and courteous, and being capable of deliberation and decisiveness;
  4. Be less than seventy years old; and
  5. Not be related to a judge of the district court.

Additionally, applicants must complete an FBI full-field investigation and an IRS tax check.

Applications are available on the U.S. District Court’s website, and must be submitted via email to cod_magistratejudge_durangosubmissions@cod.uscourts.gov. Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. on May 18, 2018, to be considered. Questions from applicants may be directed to Mrs. Louise Wilson, Human Resources Administrator, at (303) 335-2490.

For more information about the position, click here.

Nina Wang Nominated for U.S. District Court for District of Colorado

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado announced the nomination of Nina Y. Wang to replace retiring Magistrate Judge Boyd N. Boland. Judge Boland will retire effective February 8, 2015.

Ms. Wang was selected from a pool of 60 applicants, from which 5 were selected for suggestion to the court. Ms. Wang was unanimously selected by the court to fill the vacancy created by Judge Boland’s retirement. Her appointment is subject to a required background investigation.

Ms. Wang is currently a partner in the Intellectual Property Group at Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, where she focuses her practice on complex intellectual property litigation. She represents clients on representative technologies such as software, wireless routers, genetic assays, and semiconductor materials. Prior to working at Faegre, Ms. Wang served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Colorado in the civil division. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from Washington University.

Automatic Case Update RSS Notification Available from the Federal Courts

According to the United States Courts website, many federal courts now provide automatic case notification through the use of RSS feeds, allowing the public to easily stay informed of newly docketed events.

To do so, anyone can subscribe to a court’s RSS feed, which is free and includes automatic notification of activity in individual cases the user selects.

The feed offers summarized text, such as the name of the document filed, with links to the document and docket report. Results may be sorted by date or case title.

Users must have an account with the judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Documents (PACER) system, and log in to PACER to view the document or docket report linked to the RSS feed. There are many available RSS readers that offer the capability.

To learn which district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts have implemented RSS, visit the PACER website, and then click on the court’s RSS feed icon to display the feed.

Fees apply for electronic access to most documents. The current fee is eight cents per page, with a maximum charge of $2.40 per document. There is no fee for access to court opinions, and fees are waived for users who incur less than $10 of use in a quarterly billing cycle.

Chief Justice Roberts Issues 2011 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. has issued his 2011 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary. The Report discusses federal judges’ Code of Conduct, financial disclosures and gift regulation, and recusal. Justice Roberts’ Report also provides an appendix covering the workload of the many federal courts over the last year:

In 2011, caseloads increased in the U.S. district courts and in the probation and pretrial services offices, but decreased in the U.S. appellate and bankruptcy courts. Total case filings in the district courts grew 2% to 367,692. The number of persons under post-conviction supervision rose 2% to 129,780. Cases opened in the pretrial services system also went up 2%, reaching 113,875. In the U.S. courts of appeals, though, filings dropped 1.5% to 55,126. Filings in the U.S. bankruptcy courts, which had climbed 14% in 2010, declined 8% this year to just below 1.5 million petitions.

The Supreme Court of the United States

The total number of cases filed in the Supreme Court decreased from 8,159 filings in the 2009 Term to 7,857 filings in the 2010 Term, a decrease of 3.7%. The number of cases filed in the Court’s in forma pauperis docket decreased from 6,576 filings in the 2009 Term to 6,299 filings in the 2010 Term, a 4.2% decrease. The number of cases filed in the Court’s paid docket decreased from 1,583 filings in the 2009 Term to 1,558 filings in the 2010 Term, a 1.6% decrease. During the 2010 Term, 86 cases were argued and 83 were disposed of in 75 signed opinions, compared to 82 cases argued and 77 disposed of in 73 signed opinions in the 2009 Term.

The Federal Courts of Appeals

Filings in the regional courts of appeals fell 1.5% to 55,126. Growth occurred in original proceedings and bankruptcy appeals. Appeals arising from the district courts decreased. Although civil appeals remained fairly stable, reductions occurred in many types of criminal appeals. Appeals of administrative agency decisions declined as a result of the continued drop in filings related to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The Federal District Courts

Civil filings in the U.S. district courts grew 2% to 289,252 cases. Fueling this growth was a 2% increase in federal question cases (i.e., actions under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States in which the United States is not a party in the case), which resulted mainly from cases addressing civil rights, consumer credit, and intellectual property rights.

Cases filed with the United States as a party climbed 9%. Those with the United States as plaintiff increased in response to a surge in defaulted student loan cases. Cases with the United States as defendant rose largely because of growth in Social Security cases.

Although criminal case filings (including transfers) remained stable (up by 12 cases to 78,440), the number of criminal defendants increased 3% to set a new record of 102,931. Growth in filings occurred for defendants charged with drug crimes, general offenses, firearms and explosives offenses, sex offenses, and property offenses.

Filings for defendants charged with immigration offenses fell for the first time since 2006, decreasing 3%. The southwestern border districts accounted for 74% of the Nation’s total immigration defendant filings, up from 73% in 2010.

The Bankruptcy Courts

Filings of bankruptcy petitions declined 8% to 1,467,221. This was the first reduction since 2007, when filings plunged after the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 took effect. Filings for 2011 were lower in 87 of the 90 bankruptcy courts. Nonbusiness petitions fell 8%, and business petitions dropped 14%.

Bankruptcy petitions decreased 10% under chapter 7, 16% under chapter 11, and 4% under chapter 13.

The Federal Probation and Pretrial Services System

The 129,780 persons under post-conviction supervision on September 30, 2011, represented an increase of 2% over the total from the previous year. The number of persons serving terms of supervised release after their departure from correctional institutions grew 2% to 105,037, and amounted to 81% of all persons under supervision.

Cases opened in the pretrial services system in 2011, including pretrial diversion cases, rose 2% to 113,875.

Click here to read the full report issued by the United States Courts.

10th Circuit Publishes Notice Regarding Operations in the Event of a Government Shutdown

Like the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the District of Colorado, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit plans to continue all operations should the federal government shutdown. The clerk’s office will be open during regular business hours, and the CM/ECF Online Case Management and Filing system will remain fully available.

The Tenth Circuit also urges all government attorneys or others who are prohibited from working due to a shutdown to contact the clerk’s office if they have any questions or need assistance with their appeals. The Clerk of Court can be reached at (303) 844-3157 or via email.

Anticipating Possible Federal Shutdown, Chief Judge of U.S. District Court Issues Order Regarding Essential Employees

As uncertainty about the federal budget looms and the possibility of a government closure of all nonessential services becomes more, well, possible, many lawyers have wondered what this might mean at the federal courts.

While many things about a shutdown are still unclear, we have been in contact with the U.S. District Court of the District of Colorado and learned that the courts are given the discretion to identify “essential functions” that must be performed by staff in order to address the constitutional duty of the court to resolve cases, and that legislative or executive review of the courts’ determination is not required.

Along those lines, Chief Judge Wiley Y. Daniel of the U.S. District Court of the District of Colorado has issued General Order 2011-3, which states:

In accord with the Anti-Deficiency Act, 31 U.S.C., §§ 1341 and 1342 and The Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 13, Ch.2, § 220.30, it is now

ORDERED that the functions performed by all employees and judicial officers of this court and the staffs of the judicial officers of this court are determined to be necessary and essential to address the court’s constitutional duty to hear and decide cases without interruption.

Unless so modified or revoked by the chief judge, this order shall remain in effect throughout the current fiscal year.

UPDATE: The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado has indicated it has a similar order in the works.

2010 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary Finds Increased Caseloads and Continuing Issues for 2011

As reported by Law Week Colorado, the 2010 year-end report on the federal judiciary found an overall increase in caseloads in all courts except the Courts of Appeals, which saw a slight decrease from the previous year. Chief Justice Roberts wrote an overview of the issues facing the judiciary and notes a new Strategic Plan to tackle the issues moving forward, which was approved at last year’s Judicial Conference.

The plan identifies seven long-term issues that are critical to the future operation of the federal courts. The Judiciary’s central objective is, of course, to do justice according to law in every case. Accomplishing that objective requires, however, a determined focus on subsidiary issues, including managing the courts’ public resources, maintaining a skilled workforce of judges and support staff, deploying new technologies that enable the courts to do more with less, and developing rules and procedures that provide litigants with reasonable and economical access to the judicial process. It also requires focus on issues that extend beyond the courthouse, such as fostering positive relations with the coordinate branches of government and enhancing the public’s understanding of the role of the courts.

Justice Roberts notes that there are some immediate obstacles to achieving the judiciary’s goals, including budgetary constraints due to the economic downturn and the problem of judicial vacancies in already overworked districts.

The report also found that:

  • federal bankruptcy petitions continued to climb at a rate of 14%, the highest of all federal courts filings.
  • the U.S. Supreme Court case filings increased 5.4%, and experienced a 7% increase in its forma pauperis docket.
  • only the Federal Courts of Appeals experienced a decrease, with 3% less filings in 2010.
  • both criminal and civil filings in U.S. District Courts each increased by 2%.

The full report and Justice Roberts’ overview can be found here.