Senators Grassley and Sessions wrote the Chief Judge of the 9th Circuit demanding to know why the 300 + government employees are going to Hawaii (to a spa) for a judicial convention. I have the letter …and I think the Judge was a bit remiss in how he responded. He writes:
“…As you know, Circuit Conferences are authorized by law “for the purpose of considering the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit. [citing 28 USC Section 333]“
I read the statute – 28 USC Sec 333 – and note that the statute says the Circuit MAY hold a conference. It is not mandatory. The fact that it is NOT MANDATORY was left out of this letter. I think it hugely important to note that the law does not require the 300 + employees have this conference (not to mention holding it in Hawaii at an enormous cost to taxpayers…especially now when the nation’s unemployment is 8.2% and there is a huge shortage of revenue meaning social programs will get cut or taxes raised.)
The Chief Judge’s letter is long and full of his justifications and I have made notes in the margin for tonight’s OTR at 10pm.
One of the justifications I rolled my eyes at is that there will be “business meetings attended by the judges, court staff and members of the bar. Meetings ….beginning as early as 7am and continuing late into the afternoon.”
Do you want to take bets on the attendance at those 7am meetings? And how many business meetings?
One of the topics that will be discussed is “docket congestion caused by a glut of prisoner litigation in the Eastern District of California.” Do you know a great way to handle ‘docket congestion?’ Stay at work and do the work — not take the week to go to Hawaii. And here is another idea — Judges with a not so busy docket can take some of the cases and help.
Look…I would not be so appalled if it were not for the fact that so many Americans are going through very tough economic times. Judges should be an example. This conference is not a necessity…not in these tough times.