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House OKs 9th Circuit Split

by Staff
Capital Press, October 8, 2004

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation on Oct. 5 that will split the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in three, creating new 12th and 13th circiut courts.

Idaho would become part of the new 12th Circuit Court, grouped with Nevada, Arizona and Montana. California would remain in the Ninth Circuit, along with Hawaii, Guam and the northern Marianas Islands. Oregon, Washington and Alaska would constitute a new 13th Circuit Court.

The legislation, actually an amendment attached to legislation authorizing new federal judges, including one for Idaho, was sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. He worked closely with Rep. Butch Otter, R-Idaho, and other Westerners.

The original bill authorizing new federal judges was sponsored by Rep. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. Simpson’s amendment also authorizes the president to appoint five new permanent and two temporary judges to the Ninth Circuit Court, and sets forth other administrative changes to facilitate operations of the new courts.

The three separate circuit courts will more effectively serve the West, Simpson said.

“This is a significant victory for those of us who strongly believe the Ninth Circuit is too large and overburdened to effectively serve the 56 million people currently under its jurisdiction. With the passage of my amendment, I believe it’s possible to obtain both a new judge and a new Circuit Court for Idaho,” Simpson said.

The Ninth Circuit Court currently serves 15 million more people than the next-largest circuit, and about 20 million more than the average jurisdiction of the other circuit courts of appeal, Simpson said.

U.S. Census projections suggest that over the next 25 years the Ninth Circuit’s current jurisdiction will grow by 50 percent to encompass over 75 million people, he said.

Lawrence Wasden, Idaho’s attorney general, praised the move.

“Today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives is the most significant advancement of the Ninth Circuit issue yet. Idaho’s entire congressional delegation has worked on this issue for several years. A Ninth Circuit split would be a tremendous improvement in the quality of justice provided to Idaho’s citizens,” Wasden said.

“For Idaho, justice in the Ninth Circuit is unacceptably slow. The average appeal in most circuit courts takes 10 and a half months to be resolved. In the Ninth Circuit, justice is 33 percent slower, with an appeal taking 14 months to resolve,” he said.

House OKs 9th Circuit Split
Capital Press, October 8, 2004

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