One Federal Judge in Western Michigan

With three of four federal judge seats vacant for well over a year in the Western District of Michigan, the one sitting jurist has more than a full plate.

“For the last year or so, I think my car’s been the first one in the court garage in the morning and many times I leave in the evening after the lights go out in the garage,” says Robert Holmes Bell. His caseload, as of yesterday, numbered nearly 500 files, roughly 80 percent civil and 20 percent criminal, reports AP.

Although ably assisted by senior judges postponing full retirement, as well as the court’s magistrate judges, law clerks, paralegals and assistants, everyone is eager for new judges to come on board, Bell says. “The staff is tired. I’m tired. It’s become kind of a grind.”

The three vacancies were created when David W. McKeague was promoted to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and two other judges took senior status. President George W. Bush has been seeking to fill the positions, but a cumbersome judicial nomination process and partisan politics makes it difficult or impossible to fill a vacant federal judgeship on a fast-track basis, the AP article explains.

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