A Federal Judge has laid bare what has been hidden for a long time in the nation's courtrooms. Only the people who have not worked in those courtrooms think that the judicial system is functioning as it was designed to do long ago. Cases today can no longer be handled the way that they should be because there are not enough resources. For decades, Federal Courts have struggled with too few personnel and too little money to spend on administering what we euphemistically still call a system of justice.
Many individual judges have for years tried heroically to keep the judicial system functioning, or at least to give a convincing appearance of performing. Now it must be said, now it has been said: Those who have eyes to see, let them see. And something more -- seeing, let them do something to make the judicial system better even as the judicial system is about to crash.
This is what the Federal Judge had to say. This is what the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of California had to say. His words were written in an insurance case, but they apply to all cases:
Lawrence J. O'Neill, UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT TO PARTIES AND COUNSEL
Judges in the Eastern District of California carry the heaviest caseloads in the nation, and this Court is unable to devote inordinate time and resources to individual cases and matters. Given the shortage of district judges and staff, this Court addresses only the arguments, evidence, and matters necessary to reach the decision in this order. The parties and counsel are encouraged to contact the offices of United States Senators Feinstein and Harris to address this Court's inability to accommodate the parties and this action. The parties are required to reconsider consent to conduct all further proceedings before a Magistrate Judge, whose schedules are far more realistic and accommodating to parties than that of Chief U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill, who must prioritize criminal and older civil cases.
Civil trials set before Chief Judge O'Neill trail until he becomes available and [sic] are subject to suspension mid-trial to accommodate criminal matters. Civil trials are no longer reset to a later date if Chief Judge O'Neill is unavailable on the original date set for trial. Moreover, this Court's Fresno Division randomly and without advance notice reassigns civil actions to U.S. District Judges throughout the nation to serve as visiting judges. In the absence of Magistrate Judge consent, this action is subject to reassignment to a U.S. District Judge from inside or outside the Eastern District of California.
Houston Cas. Co. v. Charter Oak Fire Ins. Co., No. 1:16-cv-535-LJO-EPG, 2017 WL 35500, at *1 (E.D. Cal. January 3, 2017).
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