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- 2012 - November - 19th -

U.S. Middle District senior judges will soon outnumber active

by Joe Wilhelm Jr., Staff Writer

The theme of doing more with less could continue in the U.S. Middle District of Florida, according to District Chief Judge Anne Conway.

When U.S. District Judge John Antoon II of the Orlando Division takes senior status in June, the district will have 13 senior judges and 12 active judges if no changes are made.

Both 4th Circuit Judge Brian Davis and U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Polster Chappell await Senate confirmation of their appointments by President Barack Obama to the district.

Conway provided a "State of the District" update at the Nov. 9 meeting of the Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

"We couldn't do it without senior judges, but we need more active judges to handle the caseload," said Conway.

The district is one of the busier federal district courts in the nation. In fiscal 2009, a total of 9,646 civil and criminal cases were filed in the district.

About 83.6 percent of those were civil cases.

There were 622 weighted case filings per active judge in fiscal 2009, placing the district first among the nine districts of the 11th Circuit and fifth nationally out of 94 districts.

"In fiscal year 2012 there were 650 cases per active judgeship. The recommended number is in the 400s," said Conway.

According to the district, the caseload per active judge in the district is more than 30 percent above the national average and 45 percent above the Judicial Conference standard of 430 new weighted cases per year.

The district officially has been designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Enforcement Area by the U.S. Department of Justice. In fiscal 2008 the district had the sixth highest number of criminal defendants charged with drug-related offenses, excluding marijuana offenses, and the 10th highest number of defendants charged with fraud-related offenses.

These two categories accounted for 67 percent of the total number of criminal defendants charged in the district.

"When confirmations don't occur, a busy district will only become busier," said Conway.

Swearing in of the new officers of the Jacksonville Chapter of the Federal Bar Association also was part of the meeting.

Michael Fackler of Milam Howard is the 2012-13 president. Carol Mirando of the City Office of General Counsel is president-elect. Susanne Weisman, law clerk for U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan, is vice president-membership. Michael Abel of Holland & Knight is vice president-programs. Laura Boeckman of Florida Coastal School of Law is secretary. David Burns of Fowler White is treasurer.

Fackler also recognized the work of immediate past President Patricia Barksdale for her work during the 2011-12 term.

Barksdale led the effort to develop a website, www.jacksonvillefederalbarassoci..., for the organization.

jwilhelm@baileypub.com

@photojoe71

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