U.S. Judiciary: Chief Justice John Roberts Issues 2016 Year-End Report

John Roberts, Chief Justice of the United States, issued a 2016 year-end report on the judiciary. The Chief Justice in his annual report focused on the work of federal district court judges (federal trial court judges).

The Chief Justice noted that district judges work hard, in obscurity and subject to certain criticism for the sake of public service. (On this note, there are many other civil servants that toil anonymously, also (for far less than $205,100 (see chart below)).)


Author’s note: I have discussed federal lower court judges in discussing the profound injustice, which occurred in the employment discrimination case facing the Federal Reserve Board–Artis v. Greenspan Bernanke Yellen. The length, circuitous route, and incredible cost of time (18 years), effort and money that the plaintiffs have had to endure in this case to resolve this claim is offensive to the conscience. Such conditions show that the court system is also broken.

The district court judge, Emmet Sullivan (and others, perhaps) did their work, case management, and so on, discussed by the Chief Justice in his report. However, it is that same work that produced an expensive injustice for the plaintiffs involved in this case–the legal system was used as a weapon against financially poor litigants (case concluded, cert denied October 3, 2016). I cannot laud any district court judge for such treatment.

Moreover, The adversarial system must go in civil cases; it is unfair to mete out “justice” on the basis of a party’s financial status.


Notably, the Chief Justice did not mention of the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in the report.

[Note 1: Judicial pay has increased for 2017. See Executive Order __, schedule 7) (https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/pay-executive-order-2017-adjustments-of-certain-rates-of-pay.pdf).

 

Position Pay in 2014 (in dollars) Pay in 2015 (in dollars) Pay in 2016 (in dollars) Pay in 2017 (in dollars)
Chief Justice of the United States 255,500 255,500 260,700 263,300
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court 244,400 244,400 249,300 251,800
Circuit Judges 211,200 211,200 215,400 217,600
District Judges 199,100 199,100 203,100 205,100
Judges of the Court of International Trade 199,100 199,100 203,100 205,100

]

In the appendix to the report, the Chief Justice provides and explanation of the workload of the judiciary. I will focus on the Supreme Court’s workload. Twelve per curiam decisions were issued during this term in cases that were not argued.

  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Filings 8521 8857 8241 7738 8159 7857 7713 7509 7376 7033 6475
In forma pauperis 6846 7132 6627 6142 6576 6299 6160 6005 5808 5488 4926
Paid docket 1671 1723 1614 1596 1583 1558 1553 1504 1568 1545 1549
Cases:                      
argued 87 78 75 87 82 86 79 77 79 75 82
disposed 82 74 72 83 77 83 73 76 77 75 70
signed opinions 69 67 67 74 73 75 64 73 67 66 62
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