Even though South Carolina and Maryland each have three seats on the Fourth Circuit, you’ll be more likely to draw at least one South Carolina judge than a Maryland-based judge for your three-judge panel.
The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed Julius “Jay” Richardson and U.S. District Judge Marvin Quattlebaum as U.S. Circuit Judges for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which hears federal appeals from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Both new judges are based in South Carolina. Judge Quattlebaum will need to wait a few weeks to take his seat, because Judge William Traxler, whom he is replacing, does not take senior status until August 31. Judge Richardson replaces Judge Dennis Shedd, who took senior status in January. Information on the new judges’ backgrounds is in this prior post.
As friend-of-the-blog Kevin Elliker pointed out in a Twitter exchange, the Fourth Circuit appears to have its most-ever number of judges in the pool: 15 active judges, plus three senior judges still serving on panels. Although Congress expanded the Fourth Circuit from 12 judges to 15 judges in 1990, a Virginia seat (held by Chief Judge Roger Gregory) was not filled until 2000. Judge James Wynn‘s North Carolina seat was vacant from 1994 to 2010 (not a misprint). Judge Pamela Harris‘ seat here in Maryland was vacant from 2000, when Judge Murnaghan died, until 2009, when Judge Andre Davis was appointed. And, compared to other circuits, unusually few senior judges have kept hearing cases.
Now we’ll have three, all from South Carolina: Judges Shedd and Traxler, plus Judge Clyde Hamilton, who took senior status in 1999. It appears that Judge Hamilton is still on panels in cases submitted on brief, but that he has not been on oral argument panels since 2015.