Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Help wanted: more judges in District Court

Our View

By The Madison County Record | Dec 3, 2019

Our view

Who hasn’t had this experience at least once? You run to the supermarket at an off hour to pick up a few things and figure you’ll be in and out in 15 minutes. Of course, there’s only one cashier on duty, but that shouldn’t be a problem because there are hardly any other shoppers in the place. 

In the few minutes it takes to fill up your cart, however, and head to the front of the store to check out, a lengthy line forms, and it’s moving really slowly because the cashier is scanning items at a snail’s pace while telling her life story to the complete stranger at the front of the line, who’s too polite to interrupt and keeps looking back sheepishly at the fidgety crowd behind.

As the line grows longer, the shoppers become more agitated, and soon the murmuring starts. “They must have more than one cashier,” someone grumbles. “Why doesn’t the manager do something?” implores another. 

Finally, the PA system crackles, summoning reinforcements to the front of the store, and a second cashier eventually appears, opens a new line, and pronounces those magical words of solace: “I can take someone over here.”

That’s kind of what’s been going on in East St. Louis lately – only, instead of cashiers, it’s a shortage of judges that’s causing the backup.

There are currently two vacancies in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, created by the retirements of David Herndon in January and Michael Reagan this past March. President Trump has yet to nominate replacements for either position. 

To address the manpower problem, Chief U.S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel has issued an administrative order naming three magistrates to take charge of civil cases in which they now perform a secondary role, provided all parties in a given case consent.

That should speed things up and clear the logjam. Hopefully, President Trump will nominate replacements for Herndon and Reagan soon and we’ll get two new district court judges before people get testy and start grumbling.

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White HouseU.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

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