Archive for Monday, June 30, 2014

Kansas judge taking time joining federal bench

June 30, 2014

— A Kansas Supreme Court justice who was confirmed nearly two months ago to a federal judgeship will remain in her Kansas role through most of July, an unprecedented amount of time between confirmation and commission for a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge.

Justice Nancy Moritz was nominated by President Barack Obama on Jan. 6 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 5. She plans to stay as a state judge until July 28, said Lisa Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Judiciary.

The 84 days between when she was confirmed and when she accepts her commission to the 10th Circuit far eclipses the 19 days Neil Gorsuch took between July 20, 2006, and Aug. 8, 2006, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has had 42 other justices since being established in 1929. According to records from the Federal Judicial Center, the average time between when those judges were confirmed and when they joined the federal bench was three days.

Former judge Michael McConnell took 11 days in November 2002 and current judge Jerome Holmes took 15 days between confirmation and commission in 2006. No other 10th Circuit court judge reached double digits.

Kansas Judiciary spokeswoman Helen Pedigo said there’s a simple reason for Moritz waiting so long before taking her 10th circuit seat.

“The sole reason (Justice) Moritz is staying with the Court until July 28 is to participate in several pending decisions, including three death penalty cases,” Pedigo said in a statement.

Moritz’s presence on the federal court isn’t as important as it would be with other appellate courts, said Russell Wheeler, a judicial selection expert at the Brookings Institute.

“Compared to the other courts of appeals, the 10th Circuit is second only to the D.C. circuit in low number of (case) filings per judgeship,” Wheeler said. “It may be the case that the presence of a new judge on that court is less crucial than on some of the other courts that have a higher filing per judgeship.”


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