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The window closed Feb. 15 for applications to replace Leonidas Ralph Mecham, retiring director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. The director presides over a $5 billion-plus judiciary budget and serves as an advocate and liaison for the judiciary in sometimes testy relations with Congress. A strong list of candidates will be submitted soon to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., sources say, with the aim of hiring a candidate before the Judicial Conference meets next, on March 14. Among appeals court judges who are reportedly in the running are Jane Roth of the 3rd Circuit and Diarmuid O’Scannlain of the 9th. James Duff, managing partner of Baker Donelson and former administrative assistant to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, also gets prominent mention, as do two other former Rehnquist aides, Harvey Rishikof and Noel Augustyn. Mecham will be a hard act to follow, says Brookings Institution scholar Russell Wheeler, former deputy director of the Federal Judicial Center. A key, says Wheeler, will be adapting to the greater oversight and accountability demanded by Congress. “He or she can’t solve this chasm between the courts and Congress, but will have to be aware of Congress’ legitimate oversight powers.”
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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