Judges Group Urges Bush Confirmations

The governing body for the federal courts urged Congress Tuesday to create more judgeships to relieve crowded dockets.

The Judicial Conference of the United States recommended the addition of 11 appeals court judges and 46 district court judges, with California, Florida and New York picking up the most.

Congress voted last fall to create 15 new district judgeships, but the last time appeals courts were expanded was 1990. There are about 850 district and appeals court judges, and caseloads have increased more than 30 percent since 1990.

Also Tuesday, the Judicial Conference, which is headed by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, rejected a plan to require the stationing of officers in federal courtrooms for non-criminal hearings.

Judge Carolyn King, chief judge of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, said concern about cost killed the plan.

The Judicial Conference also voted to urge district and appeals court judges to give advance notice of retirement. President Bush proposed last year that judges give at least a year's notice of retirement if possible, as one solution for the logjam over federal judicial nominees.

"Judges think it's a reasonable request," King said.