EDTX Bench/Bar Planning Meeting

It’s a beautiful day in Plano as the “Posse” reconvenes to begin the planning process for this fall’s EDTX bench/bar meeting. The meetings (such as they are) began night before last, continued through a morning of fishing on Lake Texoma yesterday, and through the afternoon and evening at Clyde Siebman’s ranch which, inexplicably, is still in Oklahoma. We got an initial briefing from Clyde about which judges and prominent speakers are confirmed, and discussed potential panels. Those discussions will continue today with the larger group with additional input from Chief Judge Gilstrap. These are always fun meetings as we compare notes on what’s happening in the district, and see what topics the attendees would be most interested in.

Changes to EDTX Jury Wheel

Currently, EDTX jury wheels draw from lists of registered voters. Other courts, such as, for example the adjacent Northern District of Texas, draw from voter lists and drivers license lists, and eliminate duplicates. The EDTX proposes to change to a similar system including drivers licenses. If the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council approves, the change will take effect on January 1, 2020. (I know they don’t actually use rotating drums with slips of paper any more, but I’m fond of the old terminology).

Congratulations Cam Barker, newest EDTX district judge

We received some good news shortly before Judge Alan Albright’s investiture ceremony in Waco yesterday – Texas Deputy Solicitor General J. Campbell Barker was confirmed by the Senate for one of the three remaining EDTX vacancies. As Cam was at the ceremony we were able to congratulate him personally. When he starts is not certain – once the President signs his commission I understand there will be a small ceremony at the Texas Supreme Court to swear him in to make him official, but whether that’s this weekend or next week or later is not known yet.

That leaves two nominees pending, Michael Truncale for Beaumont and Sean Jordan for Plano. Both nominations have cleared the Judiciary committee and are just waiting on floor votes, which are expected within a few weeks.

EDTX judgeships update

It’s been a landmark week in DC, and this week that included steps to fill the three remaining EDTX judicial vacancies. As readers are aware, the district has eight authorized judgeships and had been carrying four vacancies for several years prior to last fall’s confirmation of Judge Kernodle for one of the Tyler vacancies.

New EDTX District Judge Nominee

President Trump’s first EDTX judicial nominee for the new Congress is Sean D. Jordan of Austin. Mr. Jordan is currently in private practice in Austin, and was formerly the principal deputy solicitor general in the Office of the Solicitor General of Texas. At one point prior to that he jumped out of airplanes for a living with the 82nd Airborne.

EDTX Court Status During Shutdown

Chief Judge Gilstrap has previously issued a general order staying all civil actions pending in the Eastern District of Texas in which the United States or an agency, corporation, officer or employee of the United States is a party and that party is represented of record by the United States Attorney (or an Assistant United States Attorney in light of the DOJ’s temporary lack of staff and funding. Effective close of business today a second general order will go into effect deeming all employees within the EDTX including the District and Magistrate Courts and their personnel, the Bankruptcy Court and its personnel, the District Clerk’s office, staff attorneys, court interpreters and coordinator, court reporters and the United States Probation Office, as essential to carry out and support the constitutionally required judicial functions of the Court. Accordingly, all employees will be required to report to work for regular duties and hours unless otherwise instructed. Employees who are off work for any reason will be placed on furlough status for whatever period of time they are not working. The General Services Administration, United States Marshals Service and all courthouse protective services and maintenance contractors are also required to maintain all functions necessary for the continued operation and safety of the courthouses and personnel within the District.