Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, June 1, 2004


Page 3


ABA President-Elect Will Tell BHBA He Opposes Division Of Ninth Circuit


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The incoming president of the American Bar Association will tell the Beverly Hills Bar Association today that he opposes legislation to divide the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals into multiple circuits, the ABA said Friday.

In remarks prepared for delivery to a BHBA luncheon, Robert J. Grey of Richmond, Va. said there is “no justification” for pending legislation that would split the circuit into three or two parts.

“Circuit restructuring is a remedy of last resort and should only be used if there is compelling evidence that justice is being denied to individual litigants and the integrity of the law is threatened,” Grey plans to tell the BHBA, according to excerpts from his prepared remarks released by the ABA. “The most current data and research available leave us convinced there is no justification for and no benefit from dividing the Ninth Circuit.”

Grey will become ABA president in August. The ABA said he plans to point out at the luncheon that division of the Ninth Circuit does not have the support of a majority of the bench and bar in the circuit. 

“Judges of the circuit in question, and the lawyers who practice before them daily, are in the best position to know how the circuit operates and to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses,” he plans to say, according to the excerpts of his speech made public Friday.

Grey plans to argue that keeping the Ninth Circuit intact will help to preserve judicial independence, the ABA said.

The excerpts from his prepared remarks declare:

“There are decisions that each federal bench makes—or any judicial panel for that matter—that some segments of the public will not agree with. One could even argue that some courts may follow certain political or ideological patterns as well. This is the nature of our system and the nature of how judges are elected and nominated. But the spirit of judicial independence does not allow us to use restructuring of the courts for political or ideological ends.”

A Senate subcommittee held a hearing on a possible split in April. Testifying in favor of a split were Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, and Ninth Circuit Judges Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain and Richard Tallman, while Chief Judge Mary Schroeder and Senior Judge J. Clifford Wallace, a former chief judge, urged that the status quo be maintained.

Ensign and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, recently introduced a bill, S. 2278, that would split the circuit in three. The Ninth Circuit would consist of California, Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands; the Twelfth Circuit would include Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana—it would hear cases in both Phoenix and Las Vegas—and the Thirteenth Circuit would be made up of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon.

 Other bills, one pending in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives, would divide the circuit into two.


Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company