Shammara Henderson (D), the first Black judge appointed to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, reportedly started hearing cases at the beginning of March. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) appointed Henderson to the court on February 14, 2020, following the retirement of former judge M. Monica Zamora (D) in January.
Henderson’s appointment to the intermediate appellate court is her first judicial position. She worked in the United States Attorney’s Office in New Mexico for six years before moving into private law practice in 2017. She served as the Associate General Counsel to former Gov. Bill Richardson (D) from 2008-2009.
The president of the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association, Aja Brooks, confirmed to The Associated Press that Henderson is the first African-American judge to be appointed to the state appeals court.
Henderson will finish the remainder of Zamora’s eight-year term which runs through the end of 2020. She must run in a partisan general election on Nov. 3, 2020, in order to remain on the court. A second position on the state Court of Appeals, currently held by Judge Zachary Ives, is also up for election this year. Both Ives and Henderson have filed to run.
In this month’s federal judicial vacancy count, Ballotpedia tracked nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from February 4, 2020, to March 2, 2020. Ballotpedia publishes the federal judicial vacancy count at the start of each month.
• Vacancies: There has been one new judicial vacancy since the January 2020 report. There are 72 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions on courts covered in this report. Including the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States territorial courts, 78 of 890 active federal judicial positions are vacant.
• Nominations: There have been 10 new nominations since the January 2020 report.
• Confirmations: There have been six new confirmations since the January 2020 report.
There were 72 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions, a total vacancy percentage of 8.3, which is 0.3 percentage points lower than the vacancy percentage in January 2020.
• The nine-member U.S. Supreme Court does not have any vacancies.
• One (0.6%) of the 179 U.S. Appeals Court positions is vacant.
• 69 (10.2%) of the 677 U.S. District Court positions are vacant.
• Two (22.2%) of the nine U.S. Court of International Trade positions are vacant.
A vacancy occurs when a judge resigns, retires, takes senior status, or passes away. Article III judges, who serve on courts authorized by Article III of the Constitution, are appointed for life terms.
One judge left active status, creating an Article III life-term judicial vacancy. As an Article III judicial position, this vacancy must be filled by a nomination from the president. Nominations are subject to confirmation on the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.
• Judge Andrew Brasher left his seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama after he was elevated to the U.S Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
U.S. Court of Appeals vacancies
The following chart tracks the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals from the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) to the date indicated on the chart.
The following maps show the number of vacancies on the United States Court of Appeals at the inauguration of President Donald Trump (R) and as of March 2, 2020.
President Trump has announced 10 new nominations since the January 2020 report.
• David Dugan, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
• Iain D. Johnston, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Franklin U. Valderrama, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Christy Wiegand, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
• Saritha Komatireddy, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
• Jennifer Rearden, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
• J. Philip Calabrese, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
• James Knepp II, to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
• Brett H. Ludwig, to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
• Michael J. Newman, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 249 individuals to Article III positions.
Since February 4, 2020, the U.S. Senate has confirmed six of President Trump’s nominees to Article III seats. As of March 2, 2020, the Senate has confirmed 193 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—138 district court judges, 51 appeals court judges, two Court of International Trade judges, and two Supreme Court justices—since January 2017.
• Andrew Brasher, confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
• Matthew Schelp, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
• Joshua Kindred, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
• John Kness, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
• Philip Halpern, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
• Silvia Carreno-Coll, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
Donald Trump has appointed and the Senate confirmed 193 Article III federal judges through March 1, 2020, his fourth year in office. This is the second-most Article III judicial appointments through this point in a presidency of all presidents dating back to Jimmy Carter. Only Carter (207) had more.
The average number of federal judges appointed by a president at the end of their third year in office is 165.
The median number of Supreme Court appointees is two. Four presidents (H.W. Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Trump) made two appointments. Presidents Jimmy Carter (D) George W. Bush (R) did not appoint any justices through this point in their presidencies.
The median number United States Court of Appeals appointees is 30. Trump appointed the most with 51, and Ronald Reagan (R) appointed the fewest with 24.
The median number of United States District Court appointees is 138. President Carter (D) appointed the most with 157, and President Reagan (R) appointed the fewest with 97.
Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the: Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade.
On March 1, 2020, Edirin Okoloko joined the Snohomish County Superior Court for the second time in as many years. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) first appointed Okoloko to the court in September 2018 to replace retiring judge George N. Bowden. Okoloko held the position for just over a year until he lost a retention election to Anna Alexander in November 2019. Inslee again appointed Okoloko to the Snohomish County Superior Court on January 22, 2020, to replace retiring judge Linda C. Krese.
Before becoming a judge, Okoloko worked as the Snohomish County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for 13 years.
The Snohomish County Superior Court is one of 32 superior courts covering 39 counties in the state of Washington. According to the official website of the Washington court system, superior courts have “exclusive jurisdiction for felony matters, real property rights, domestic relations, estate, mental illness, juvenile, and civil cases over $50,000.”