Vacancies On Federal Appeals Court Prompt Worries

The federal appeals court in Richmond has the most judicial openings in the nation, prompting concerns about its ability to continue to resolve cases promptly.

Chief Judge William Wilkins took senior status July First, leaving four vacancies on the Fourth U-S Circuit Court of Appeals.
udge Emory Widener Junior has told President Bush that he, too, will take senior status once a successor is confirmed.

The vacancies amount to nearly a third of the 15 slots authorized for the court. The circuit includes Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Wilkins says the high vacancy rate will potentially increase the time between filing an appeal and a decision being handed down. The
median time for the Richmond-based court is nine-and-a-half months.