In re: Motor Fuel Temperature Sales Practice Litig.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
  • Date Filed: 03-19-2013
  • Case #: DC# 2:07-md-01840-KHV-JPO
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Chief Judge Kozinski for the Court
  • Full Text Opinion

To meet the Chief Justice’s Guidelines for an Inter-district Assignment of an Article III Judge, there must be more than an over-burdening to warrant bringing in a visiting judge, and even in the case of severe or unexpected over-burdening; the first remedy is to bring in a visiting judge from another court within the circuit.

Three cases originally filed in separate California districts were referred “to the District of Kansas by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation for consolidated pre-trial proceedings” and were conducted before the Chief Judge of that district, the Honorable Kathryn H. Vratil. After pretrial proceedings, Chief Judge Vratil asked the Multidistrict Panel to remand the cases to California for trial. Typically on remand, the “cases would be returned for trial to the judges before whom they were previously pending.” Although Chief Justice Vratil is willing to travel to California to conduct the trials, she must receive approval from the Chief Justice of the United States to preside over a Ninth Circuit trial because she is a Tenth Circuit Judge. Consistent with the Chief Justice’s Guidelines, only if bringing in a visiting judge from within the circuit is not possible will the Court seek the assistance of out-of-circuit judges. The panel found that although the assignment of Chief Judge Vratil would serve the interests of judicial efficiency, the proposed inter-circuit assignment did not “meet the profile for such an assignment.” Signing a Certificate for Necessity would “remov[e] the judges to whom the cases were originally assigned and transfer[] them to an out-of-circuit judge,” which the chief judge of the circuit is not empowered to do and would constitute an encroachment on the autonomy of the district courts. The panel was unable to find enough of a justification for the assignment of an out-of-circuit judge who presided over pre-trial proceedings. Request for a Certificate of Necessity DENIED.

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