U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Chief Judge Timothy Corrigan presented his annual State of the District Report on Jan. 19 to members of the Federal Bar Association Jacksonville Chapter at the Bryan Simpson U.S. Courthouse.
The Middle District’s jurisdiction includes Northeast, Central and Southwest Florida, comprising 35 of the 67 counties in the state.
In addition to Jacksonville, federal courthouses are in Fort Myers, Ocala, Orlando and Tampa.
Corrigan said that with about 12.5 million residents, the district’s population is larger than 44 of the 50 U.S. states.
Among the 94 federal district courts in the U.S., the Middle District of Florida is 13th nationally in the number of cases filed and 11th nationally in civil cases filed per judgeship.
The district is No. 1 in the nation in prisoner petition and Social Security appeal filings.
“Our court’s caseload justifies at least 20 district judges instead of our current allotment of 15,” Corrigan said.
In addition to Jacksonville Division U.S. District Judge Brian Davis, who will assume senior status and the option to have a limited caseload effective Dec. 30, several other judges in the district have or soon could assume senior status.
Federal judges are eligible for senior status when they are at least 65 years old and have served at least 15 years on the bench, or any combination of age and years of service thereafter that equals 80.
“If all eligible judges take senior status and the vacancies are not filled promptly, our court could soon have one-third of its judgeships vacant. The point is we need these vacancies filled on a timely basis,” Corrigan said.
Corrigan said he has written President Joe Biden and Florida’s U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott to make clear the need to address the issue.
“I am asking the federal Bar and other Bar associations and you as officers of the court to join us in advocating for the filling of these vacancies and for at least one new judgeship in the Ocala Division,” Corrigan said.
Presidential appointment followed by Senate confirmation ensuring that there are enough judges is key to the the district continuing to perform its mission, Corrigan said.
“Our court is in the customer service business. We exist to serve litigants, the 20,000 members of our Bar and the 12.5 million residents of the Middle District of Florida. Every day, we try to make sure that we remember that,” he said.