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Fifty Years of JusticeA History of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida$
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James M. Denham

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060491

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060491.001.0001

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“It’s a Tidal Wave … and I’m Not Kidding about It!”

“It’s a Tidal Wave … and I’m Not Kidding about It!”

(p.311) 16 “It’s a Tidal Wave … and I’m Not Kidding about It!”
Fifty Years of Justice

James M. Denham

University Press of Florida

During Elizabeth Kovachevich’s tenure as chief judge in 1996 case-load overcrowding reached a crisis. The number and length of criminal prosecutions associated with illegal drugs overwhelmed the court to the degree that civil trials were increasing pushed back on the docket. Judge Kovachevich acted proactively and unconventionally to address the crisis. She called on bar associations in the district to act and even travelled personally to Washington to lobby lawmakers to act to pass legislation expanding the number of judges. She admonished lawmakers to act in bipartisan fashion to confirm judges. Judge Kovachevich initiated unprecedented and controversial measures to cope with the overcrowding. The shortage of judges and the increasing overcrowding was further exacerbated by partisan politics and the Senate confirmation process nearly broke down completely. The court made due with selecting more magistrates, and their backgrounds are included. Finally due to the cooperation of Senators Graham and Mack, the district was able to secure the confirmation of six more justices for a total of nine appointed during Clinton’s presidency. The backgrounds of these new appointees are covered extensively.

Keywords:   Elizabeth Kovachevich, Bob Graham, Connie Mack, Senate Confirmation of Judges, Judicial Appointments of President Bill Clinton, Federal District Court Nominating Commission for Florida, William Terrell Hodges, Accelerated Trial Calendar (ATC)

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