What will happen to the patent-heavy Marshall docket with the retirement of U.S. District Judge T. John Ward? That’s a big topic of discussion at the 15th Annual Eastern District Bench Bar Conference, which is wrapping up today in Las Colinas. But what about an Eastern District of Texas bench that has been vacant since October 2006, when U.S. District Judge Paul Brown of Sherman retired? Various visiting district judges have shared that docket ever since. On May 13, the Grayson County Bar Association (GCBA) sent a letter to U.S. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, both Texas Republicans, to ask them to help fill the open bench in the U.S. Courthouse in Sherman. “This Division handles more than half of the Eastern District’s entire criminal docket, along with many complex intellectual property cases for which the Eastern District has become known,” the GCBA wrote. “A platooning of visiting federal judges has tirelessly worked to cover the Sherman docket, with considerable attendant stresses on them and their staffs.” The association also noted in the letter that the federal court presence in Sherman may wither -- a shame because Sherman was one of the first federal courts in the state of Texas. “We really need to get this bench filled,” says Roger Sanders, a partner in Sherman’s Sanders, O’Hanlon & Motley and former GCBA president who signed the letter. Scott Gosnell, a spokesman for Cornyn, says the senator has not yet made a recommendation to President Barack Obama for the Sherman bench. A representative for Hutchison could not immediately provide comment.
-- John Council