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Miami-South Florida’s federal judges have declined to change their current system of transferring cases to one another outside the random-assignment process, despite concerns raised by the federal public defender that the current system could open the door to forum shopping by litigants. In a recent meeting to vote on whether to change their operating procedures, the judges blasted a proposal by Federal Public Defender Kathleen M. Williams to impose restrictions on their ability to transfer cases among themselves. “You’re asking us to change the present policy, which has been in effect for many years . . . and to complicate the system,” said U.S. District Judge Donald L. Graham. The judges’ informal method of transferring cases among each other came to light when the Daily Business Review, a sister publication of The National Law Journal, discovered that the court had its own unpublished internal operating procedures that allow them to make such transfers. The procedure was discovered while the Review was reporting on the wholesale transfer of his criminal docket by Senior Judge James Lawrence King to another judge so he could avoid a conflict of interest.

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