As Trump Reshapes Federal Courts, Vacancies Have Texas Judges Working Overtime to Hear Cases

WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s appellate court picks at a record pace, but federal trial courts in Texas are still struggling with a high number of vacancies, causing a backlog of cases and overworked judges.Trump is on track to reshape the federal courts. More than 100 benches were vacant when he took office, including 11 district judgeships in Texas.The president has focused on appellate courts, a strategy conservative legal activists have lauded as the most effective way to reshape the judiciary. But much of the work of federal courts is at the trial level, and the relative neglect of Texas’ district court vacancies has left chronic backlogs, with judges working extra hours to ensure that Texans don’t wait months to have their cases heard.The state will have three more vacancies starting Dec. 31, when Western District Judge Sam Sparks takes senior status — a form of working retirement available to federal judges.“They’re pretty desperate to get people,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who tracks judicial nominations. “They really need help down there.”  Continue reading...

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