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Constitutional Law

Citing 4-Year Vacancy, Chief Federal Judge in RI Sends Cases to Other States, Upsetting Some Parties

Posted Mar 7, 2011 1:40 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In a highly unusual move, the chief federal district judge in Rhode Island has sent some two dozen cases to colleagues in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She and another judge have struggled for four years to keep up with the load as a third seat on the bench sat vacant because of disagreement in the Senate about nominations by President Barack Obama.

"Our job is to resolve cases and to do so in as timely and efficient a manner as we can. And when our ability to do so is hampered, I don't think that's good for any participants in the process," Chief Judge Mary Lisi tells the Associated Press.

However, some are participants are unhappy about potentially having to travel to another state to pursue the litigation. Among them is attorney George Babcock, who represents clients in over a dozen foreclosure cases transferred to New Hampshire.

"I want to work on my cases in my office, not in a Motel 6," he tells the news agency. "And with all these clients, I'm going to have to rent a whole wing at the Motel 6."

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