These Are The Nation's 27 Most Overworked District Courts

By Cara Bayles | March 18, 2019, 8:48 PM EDT

Last week, the Judicial Conference of the United States released new numbers on the federal district courts most in need of additional judges, and asked Congress to create 73 permanent judgeships. The recommended additions would be distributed among 27 districts in 18 states.

The Judicial Conference calculates weighted caseload for each district by adjusting raw litigation data for case complexity, then dividing that by the number of authorized judgeships allocated to the district. But that statistic doesn’t account for vacancies, many of which have lingered for years thanks to partisan gridlock in Congress. In 20 of the districts recommended for additional judgeships, judges have retired, died or been promoted, leaving seats empty.

Eight of the districts on the conference’s list are home to so-called temporary judgeships, positions with an expiration date. Once a temporary judgeship expires, the next judicial vacancy in that district isn’t filled. Last week, the conference recommended that Congress make all but two of the nation’s 10 temporary judgeships permanent positions (signified as T→P below).

Permanent judgeships were last added to the bench 16 years ago, and many of the needy districts identified by the Judicial Conference haven’t seen their benches bolstered in decades (the dates provided below reflect the creation of permanent judgeships, not temporary positions).



Cara Bayles is a feature reporter for Law360. She last wrote about litigation by indigent defendants against public defenders. Follow her on Twitter. Graphics by Chris Yates. Editing by Jocelyn Allison, Katherine Rautenberg and John Campbell.