March 03, 2005

Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Craig/Crapo Bill To Create Third District Judgeship For Idaho

Craig fends off attempts to defeat bill during Committee hearing

WASHINGTON, DC â?? A bill authored by Idaho Senator Larry Craig and cosponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo to create a third additional permanent federal district court judgeship for the state of Idaho, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today by a vote of 18-0. Craig, a member of the Committee, fought off several attempts to amend or defeat S. 878 during the contentious meeting this morning. â??I am very pleased that I was able today with the strong support of Senator Crapo, to take this major step in creating a third permanent federal district judgeship for our state necessary to address Idahoâ??s exploding federal caseload,â?? Senator Craig said. â??This growth, combined with the geographic challenges Idaho presents, has severely hampered our citizensâ?? timely access to the courts. It is an injustice that I look forward to being corrected with the eventual passage of this bill by the full Senate.â??â??This is a significant step forward in our efforts to address the growing threats to the timely administration of justice in Idaho, and Senator Craig has demonstrated outstanding leadership in moving this legislation through committee,â?? Senator Crapo said. â??Despite the rapid growth in population in our geographically expansive state, Idaho is currently one of only three states that has only two federal district judgeships. I look forward to working with Senator Craig to move this bill quickly through the legislative process so that we may relieve the growing caseload burden on our current judges.â??Since Idaho's last judgeship was created in 1954, the population has increased from approximately a half a million to over a million, and in the last decade, Idaho was the third fastest-growing state in the nation. According to the Judicial Conference, the weighted caseload is 554. Criminal filings, in particular, have increased 200 percent over last year and are growing in complexity. Complicating the workload question is the geography of the state. With 450 miles between divisions, Idahoâ??s current federal district judges are forced to spend some 20 percent of their time on the road. Craig argued that this particular circumstance justified making the additional judgeship a permanent one, rather than temporary as the Judicial Conference had originally recommended. [30]