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Judge Stephen Robinson was confirmed to the federal bench in New York’s Southern District in 2003, and he’s been trying to dig himself out of his docket ever since. Robinson, according to a new report by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, had 155 motions pending for more than six months as of March 2007 � the second-heaviest motions backlog in the country. Lawyers who practice in his court describe Robinson as hard-working, conscientious, and well-liked, but the judge is also widely known for his inertia when it comes to making decisions. Robinson says the raw numbers fail to account for the complexity of some cases or the size and age of the docket a new judge inherits. The court yoked him with more than 350 cases and nearly 100 outstanding motions when he came aboard, he says. Still, he admits to having trouble. “For a new judge to dig themselves out from under that is difficult sledding,” Robinson says. “I have not been particularly successful in that task.” Last month, the Administrative Office released its semiannual report on pending cases and motions, which � however imperfect � is the closest thing there is to a judicial report card. The difference between a docket that moves on rails and one that drags along on gravel can come down to one mammoth case or 1,000 smaller ones, and there are no apparent penalties or rewards one way or the other.

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