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Second Regular Session

Sixty-first General Assembly

LLS NO. R98­0606.01 JJC


BY REPRESENTATIVES Grossman, Leyba, Tate, Udall, and Veiga.



WHEREAS, Chief Justice William Rehnquist issued his annual Year­End Report on the Federal Judiciary on January 1, 1998; and

WHEREAS, Chief Justice Rehnquist, in that report, pointedly expressed his disapproval of the slow pace of confirmation of federal judges by the U.S. Senate; and

WHEREAS, The President shares the responsibility for nominating federal judges with the U.S. Senate, making such appointments by and with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate; and

WHEREAS, Courts of appeals and bankruptcy filings were at their highest rates in history in fiscal year 1997; and

WHEREAS, There was a five percent increase in criminal cases in federal court in 1997 alone, creating the largest federal criminal caseload in sixty years; and

WHEREAS, Bankruptcy filings increased twenty­three percent in 1997 alone, with the overall increase coming predominantly from nonbusiness filings; and

WHEREAS, Congress has not created any new judgeships since 1990, but the federal appeals court caseload has increased twenty­one percent and the federal district court caseload has increased twenty­four percent in that same time; and

WHEREAS, While there are no pending federal judicial vacancies in Colorado, the Judicial Conference of the United States recommended in 1996 that one temporary and one permanent judgeship be created for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, but Congress has yet to act on that recommendation; and

WHEREAS, Judge Zita Weinshienk of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has announced that she will be taking senior status in April of this year, thus creating a vacancy in the federal judiciary serving Colorado; and

WHEREAS, Judges Clarence Brimmer and Alan Johnson of Cheyenne and Judge William Downes of Casper, all of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, have each been assisting with the pending federal caseload in Colorado, each taking approximately one­third of a full­time caseload in Colorado; and

WHEREAS, In his annual report, Chief Justice Rehnquist maintained that judicial vacancies contribute to a backlog of cases, undue delays in civil cases, and stopgap measures to shift judicial personnel; and

WHEREAS, Nearly one in ten federal judgeships is currently vacant, and there are now twenty­six vacancies in the federal judiciary that have been awaiting Senate disposition for eighteen months or longer and now constitute "judicial emergencies"; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Senate has confirmed only fifty­three federal judges over the last two years, compared to confirming one hundred one judges in 1994 alone; and

WHEREAS, In his annual report, Chief Justice Rehnquist asserted that: "Vacancies cannot remain at such high levels indefinitely without eroding the quality of justice that traditionally has been associated with the federal judiciary"; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the Sixty­first General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the Senate concurring herein:

(1)  That the General Assembly requests the U.S. Senate to timely act upon all pending and future nominations for federal judgeships.

(2)  That the General Assembly requests the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate to timely review and act upon the qualifications of nominees for the federal judiciary and, after the necessary time for inquiry, to so inform the rest of the Senate and to bring pending nominations to prompt resolutions.

(3)  That the General Assembly expresses its concern to both the President and the U.S. Senate regarding the continuing harm to the state of the federal judiciary due to a prolonged nomination and confirmation process.

Be It Further Resolved, That copies of this Joint Resolution be sent to Senator Wayne Allard and to Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and, in addition, to all members of the United States Senate, including members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and to the President urging them to expedite the nomination and confirmation of federal judges consistent with the appeal by Chief Justice Rehnquist.