Federal Judicial Vacancies in New Jersey Challenge Court


The federal district court in New Jersey is facing a crisis.

The already overburdened court will be down six judges by next year and the Trump administration hasn’t nominated anybody to fill those slots.

At full strength, the New Jersey federal district court is supposed to have 17 judges, but it currently has 14. Two more judges are scheduled to step down this year and another judge is slated to retire in early 2019.

“Delaware and New Jersey have tremendous vacancies in judges right now,” Chief Judge Jose L. Linares of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey said. “By this time next year, the [New Jersey federal district court] will be down six judges out of 17 and the federal district court in Delaware is down to two judges plus a senior judge,” he said.

Judicial emergencies have been declared in both New Jersey and Delaware due to the vacancies.

Because the New Jersey federal district court handles the bulk of the nation’s drug patent litigation between brand and generic drug companies, ranking just behind the Delaware district court, the situation could affect life sciences companies in the state, including Bristol-Myers Squibb & Co., Roche, and Pfizer Inc.

Trial dates could be delayed, causing uncertainty about case scheduling, costing companies more money, and affecting the timing of generic drug launches.

Lawyers practicing before the court are so concerned about the situation that the Association of the Federal Bar in New Jersey fired off a letter to the White House in March asking the administration to nominate judges to fill the vacancies.

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