HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut’s top federal judge is enlisting help from out-of-state colleagues to preside over a backlog of civil cases created by a shortage of U.S. District judges.
The Connecticut Post reports that Chief U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson has reached out to the chairman of the federal court system’s assignments committee.
Nine judges have responded to calls for help and are coming from Ohio, Kentucky, Montana, New York City and South Dakota.
Judge Peter C. Dorsey died in January, another judge is ill, the promotion of Judge Christopher Droney to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has created a vacancy and a senior judge is no longer taking criminal cases or conducting civil trials.
President Barack Obama has nominated Hartford attorney Michael P. Shea to take the vacant federal district judgeship.
The nomination requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate, which can be a lengthy process.
Also adding to the caseload of civil lawsuits are dozens of criminal cases, which take precedence in federal court.
Criminal cases include financial fraud and large drug prosecutions. For example, two indictments from a narcotics investigation in New Haven resulted in 105 defendants being brought into the criminal justice system.
“We needed help to keep things at a manageable level,” Thompson told the newspaper in a recent interview.
As of Friday, Thompson said 41 civil cases have been selected for the visiting judges. The trials are expected to average about five days, with the shortest being two and the longest at nine, he said.
The first cases are slated for next month, with one taking place at the New Haven courthouse and the other in Hartford.
Thompson said juries will be picked by local judges before the visiting judges arrive.
It’s not the first time a chief federal judge in Connecticut has sought help from the outside. The late Chief U.S. District
Judge T. F. Gilroy Daly, dealing with vacancies and a docket filled with asbestos-related injury cases, summoned out-of-state judges in 1983. For nearly two years, each of the judges sat for a month in Connecticut. Their work helped dispose of more than 300 civil cases..
Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com
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