First Regular Session

Sixty-second General Assembly

LLS NO. R99­0752.01 Jeff Conway


BY REPRESENTATIVES Grossman and Kaufman



WHEREAS, Pursuant to the United States Constitution, the President shares the responsibility with the U.S. Senate for filling vacancies on the federal bench by nominating federal judges and making such appointments by and with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate; and

WHEREAS, Congress has not created any new judgeships since 1990, but the federal district court caseload has increased 24% during that same time; and

WHEREAS, 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 took senior status in April 1998, thus creating a vacancy in the federal judiciary serving Colorado, and that vacancy has not yet been filled; and

WHEREAS, Colorado has had its current complement of 7 federal district judgeships since 1984, and in that time the state's population has grown more than 22%; and

WHEREAS, In the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, it now takes nearly two years for an average civil case to go to trial, and the district ranks 79th out of 94 federal judicial districts in the country for the number of civil cases that have been pending more than three years; and

WHEREAS, The civil caseload in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado has increased more than 16% over the four years of 1993­1997, and nearly one­fifth of all pending motions in all federal district courts are in the District of Colorado; and

WHEREAS, The criminal caseload in the District of Colorado has increased more than 50% in the last decade, and for the first time in 26 years, national federal criminal filings experienced a double­digit increase in one year, a 15% increase for 1998; and

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

WHEREAS, As of February 1999, there are 41 federal district court judgeships that remain vacant, and there are now 25 vacancies in the federal judiciary that have been awaiting Senate disposition for 18 months or longer and now constitute "judicial emergencies"; and

WHEREAS, The U.S. Senate confirmed only 65 federal judges in 1998, compared to confirming 101 judges in 1994; and

WHEREAS, In his 1998 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 Sixty­second General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the Senate concurring herein:

(1)  That the General Assembly requests the President of the United States to timely nominate qualified persons for federal judgeships, including a nominee for the pending vacancy in Colorado.

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

(3)  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 resolution.

(4)  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 the President of the United States, Senator Wayne Allard, and Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, and, in addition, to all other members of the United States Senate, including members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.