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Judicial Conference Votes to Curb Career ClerksThe Judicial Conference has voted to head off the pricey trend of federal judges stacking their chambers with multiple long-haul clerks. The new rule: One judge, one career law clerk. Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, chairman of the conference's executive committee, told reporters that millions of dollars would be saved in the next decade by managing the career clerk population. There are currently 291 career clerks, each with an annual salary of some $100,000, in chambers where another career clerk is employed.
Legal Times2007-09-19 12:00:00 AM
As expected, the Judicial Conference voted Tuesday to head off the pricey trend of federal judges stacking their chambers with multiple long-haul clerks. One judge, one career law clerk. That's the new rule.
Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, chairman of the conference's executive committee, told reporters that tens of millions of dollars would be saved over the next decade by managing the career clerk population. Currently, there are 291 career clerks, each with an annual salary of around $100,000, in chambers where another career clerk is employed. They'll be grandfathered into the new system, of course.
The temporary -- or "term" -- clerks make anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 a year, depending on their level of experience. Speaking of which, Hogan also touched on another trend: Anecdotally, he said, fewer law school grads are jumping right into clerkships. Instead, they're working for a year or two at private firms, and then applying to the courts once they've paid off a good hunk, if not all, of their law school loans. It's a win-win, he said. The judges get better help, and the help gets better pay.
The judges also voted to make transcripts of federal district and bankruptcy court proceedings available on the judiciary's online database, Public Access to Court Electronic Records. The transcripts will cost 8 cents a page, but they won't be available online until 90 days after they've been filed with the clerk. The idea is to protect the court reporters, whose income depends on transcript proceeds, Hogan said.
Fortunately, the conference also made it easier to circumvent the fees by agreeing to a joint pilot project with the Government Printing Office and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to provide free PACER access at 15 federal depository libraries. The participating libraries have yet to be named, Hogan said.
In other business, the conference voted to bump up the maximum civil penalty for employers who retaliate against employees serving on jury duty from $1,000 to $5,000, and encouraged district courts to examine how jurors are summoned in an effort to make their service less burdensome.