Longtime U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt of Houston celebrated his 65th birthday on March 2 by officially taking senior status. While senior judges have the option of taking as many or as few cases as they want, Hoyt says he’s opting for the former.
“It’s going to be about 80 percent of a full load. And I’m still available to work,” Hoyt says.
Hoyt’s last major task on the bench was assuming the docket of former U.S. District Judge Sam Kent of Galveston after Kent was sent to prison for 33 months and was later impeached by Congress.
“When I first went to Galveston, we had two problems. We had no judge, and we had a hurricane,” Hoyt says, noting that Hurricane Ike filled the basement of the Galveston federal courthouse with water in 2008. Workers rebuilt the damage in the courthouse, while Hoyt rebuilt its docket, which had shriveled.
“We had a docket of 150 cases,” when Hoyt arrived in 2009, he says. “That lasted about six months. The lawyers found out there was a nonresident judge in the courthouse. And it was 450 cases when I left” in 2011.
President Barack Obama appointed Gregg Costa to the Galveston U.S. District Court in 2011.
“And Judge Costa has about 600 cases now,” Hoyt says.
— John Council