The chief judge of the federal appeals court in Atlanta said Monday he may wait until the Senate fills one of two current vacancies on the court before he becomes a senior judge.
Chief Judge Joel Dubina said he had written a letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, saying he planned to step down as chief judge and take senior status on Aug. 1. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts posted the information on its website last week.
“I thought it was a little bit premature,” Dubina said. “It’s not official until I send my letter to the president and I haven’t done that.”
The busy 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases out of Georgia, Alabama and Florida, is allotted 12 judges. It now has two vacancies, which by tradition must be filled by Georgians. One of the vacancies has stood open since August 2010.
Dubina said if the Senate has not filled at least one of the vacancies by Aug. 1, he may delay his decision to become a senior judge with a reduced caseload. “Leaving the court with three vacancies is just an intolerable situation for my colleagues,” he said. “So I’m keeping my options open.”
President Barack Obama recently renominated Atlanta lawyer Jill Pryor to fill one of the two 11th Circuit vacancies, but the Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to schedule a confirmation hearing for her.
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