Examining NJ's Shortage of District Court Judges

Jose Linares, Former U.S. Federal District Court Chief Judge, Ret., joins Steve Adubato to discuss the shortage of New Jersey district court judges and why this is being deemed a "state of judicial emergency."

9/28/19 #113






"Welcome to Think Tank. I'm Steve Adubato. We're coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in beautiful Brick City, Newark, New Jersey. Everything you've ever or needed to know about the federal courts, you're about to find out. Our guest is our good friend Jose Linares, former US federal district court, chief judge for how many years? I was in the federal court for 17... almost 17 years. I was chief judge for the last couple of years that was there. The last two. Judge, tell folks what it means... and by the way, you are now with McCarter & English as a partner? That's true. Tell folks what it means, the federal judge... the federal courts, as opposed to state judge? Family court? Like, what's the difference? Well it's a big difference. The federal court is... obviously it's that. It's a federal court. The judges in the federal court are constitutional officers under Article III of the Constitution. They are appointed by the President of the United States. Or nominated I should say, by the President of the United States. Approved by the US Senate? And approved by the US Senate. And they're lifetime appointments. So it is completely different than the state court system. The nature of the cases they handle is different. There has to be a federal basis for cases to get into federal court. Whether it's diversity of citizenship among the people in... there are litigants, whether it is a federal crime that is committed, something involving bringing drugs across state lines, or terrorism... You've handled some high-profile cases. You've been the judge in some high-profile cases? I did. High-profile political corruption cases, and a whole bunch of others, and one of the things that Jose and I have talked about, and we... I should disclose, we have a friendship off-camera. And so some of these issues come up. But let's talk about this. You've often said, "You know what? The number of vacancies in the federal court?" There were 16. There were supposed to be 16...? 17. 17? Yeah. 17. And there are six vacancies? Correct. And it's been said that we actually need 20? That's right. That's right. So okay, someone says, "So what does that mean? Big deal. They have a lot of vacancies." It... How does that impact the citizens of this region? It is a huge deal. It is a huge deal. First of all, the... if you think about it, how many people are in New Jersey? Over 8 million people? That's right. 8.9 million people? Whatever it is. There are 17 federal judges, district court judges, active judges, who are supposed to handle the litigation for those citizens and others that come into our courts. So... and as you indicated, the... Washington, based on the number of cases that we..."