Over the last six years, CA3’s use of visiting judges — any judge who’s not a Third Circuit judge — has plummeted:
In raw numbers, visiting judges in 2008 sat on CA3 appeals 443 times; by 2013, they sat only 72 times.
Here is how the Third Circuit compares to the other circuits for 2013:
So CA3 (orange bar) is now at the low end, but CA5 and CA10 are even lower–and CADC used no visiting judges in 2013, for the 5th year in a row.
So the Third Circuit is using fewer visiting judges than it did, but why? It’s not due to fewer appeals. This chart below shows how many times a judge was assigned to a Third Circuit merits panel per year:
So judge-assignments in the circuit are rising, not dropping. The difference is that active CA3 judges are filling a lot more slots now: about 5,000 in 2008, over 6,500 in 2013.
So I don’t have an explanation, but the bottom line is more Third Circuit cases are getting decided by active Third Circuit judges.
Source: AOC Federal court management statistics, 9/13 / case participations
While it would not explain the overall trend, E.D. Pa. Judge Pollak’s illness and passing would account for at least some of the dip in Third Circuit “visitors.” Judge Pollak sat with the Third Circuit as a matter of course around 3-4 times a year. He may have done so less in the last year of his life, and most sadly, he died in May 2012.
Thanks, John. He’s sorely missed.