Chandler v. Judicial Council of Tenth Circuit of United States, No. 2

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBURGER
Citation90 S.Ct. 1648,26 L.Ed.2d 100,398 U.S. 74
PartiesStephen S. CHANDLER, United States District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, Petitioner, v. JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF the TENTH CIRCUIT OF the UNITED STATES. isc
Decision Date01 June 1970
Docket NumberM,No. 2

398 U.S. 74
90 S.Ct. 1648
26 L.Ed.2d 100
Stephen S. CHANDLER, United States District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma, Petitioner,

v.

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF the TENTH CIRCUIT OF the UNITED STATES.

No. 2, Misc.
Argued Dec. 10, 1969.
Decided June 1, 1970.
Rehearing Denied June 29, 1970.

See 399 U.S. 937, 90 S.Ct. 2248.

Page 75

Thomas J. Kenan, Oklahoma City, Okl., for petitioner.

Carl L. Shipley, Washington, D.C., amicus curiae.

Charles Alan Wright, Austin, Tex., for respondent.

Solicitor Gen., Erwin N. Griswold, for the United States, amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.

Mr. Chief Justice BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner, a United States District Judge, filed a motion for leave to file a petition for a writ of mandamus or alternatively a writ of prohibition addressed to the Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit. His petition seeks resolution of questions of first impression concerning, inter

Page 76

alia, the scope and constitutionality of the powers of the Judicial Councils under 28 U.S.C. §§ 137 and 332.1 The Judicial Council of each federal circuit is, under the present statute, composed of the active circuit judges of the circuit. Petitioner has asked this Court to issue an order under the All Writs Act2 telling the Council to 'cease acting (in) violation of its powers and in violation of Judge Chandler's rights as a federal judge and an Amer-

Page 77

ican citizen.' The background facts are of some importance.

1

On December 13, 1965, the Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit convened in special session,3 and adopted an order which reflected a long history of controversy between petitioner and the Council concerning the conduct of the work of the District Court assigned to petitioner. The Order of December 13 purported to issue under the authority of 28 U.S.C. § 332, supra, n. 1, and recited that during

'the past four years the Judicial Council at many meetings has discussed and considered the business of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and has done so with particular regard to the effect thereon of the attitude and conduct of Judge Chandler who, as the Chief Judge of that District, is primarily responsible for the administration of such business. * * *'

The Order noted that during that period petitioner had been a party defendant in both civil and criminal litigation, as well as the subject of two applications to disqualify him in litigation in which on challenge petitioner had refused to disqualify himself.4 The Order continued with a finding that

'Judge Chandler is presently unable, or unwilling, to discharge efficiently the duties of his office; that

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a change must be made in the division of business and the assignment of cases in the Western District of Oklahoma; and that the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma requires the orders herein made.'

Expressly invoking the powers of the Judicial Council under 28 U.S.C. § 332, supra, n. 1, the Order directed that

'until the further order of the Judicial Council, the Honorable Stephen S. Chandler shall take no action whatsoever in any case or proceeding now or hereafter pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma; that all cases and proceedings now assigned to or pending before him shall be reassigned to and among the other judges of said court; and that until the further order of the Judicial Council no cases or proceedings filed or instituted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma shall be asigned to him for any action whatsoever.

'It is further ORDERED that in the event the active judges of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, including Judge Chandler, cannot agree among themselves upon the division of business and assignment of cases made necessary by this order, the Judicial Council, upon such disagreement being brought to its attention, will act under 28 U.S.C. § 137 and make such division and assignment as it deems proper.'

Page 79

Copies of the above Order were filed in the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on December 27 and 28, respectively. Another copy was served on Judge Chandler by a U. S. Marshal.

On January 6, 1966, as previously noted, Judge Chandler filed with this Court his motion for leave to file a petition for a writ of prohibition and/or mandamus directed to the Judicial Council. He also sought a stay of its Order. The Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the Judicial Council, asked this Court to deny the stay application on the Council's representation that the Order of December 13 was only temporary pending prompt further inquiry into Judge Chandler's administration of the business of his court. The stay was denied on January 21, 1966, on the ground that the Order was 'entirely interlocutory in character pending prompt further proceedings * * * and that at such proceedings Judge Chandler will be permitted to appear before the Council, with counsel * * *.' 382 U.S. 1003, 86 S.Ct. 610, 15 L.Ed.2d 494.

On January 24, 1966, Judge Chandler addressed a letter to his fellow district judges indicating that he objected to the removal and reassignment of cases previously assigned and pending before him on December 28, 1965, but that he was not in disagreement with them as to the assignment of all new cases to judges other than himself. Judge Chandler asserted continuing judicial authority, however, over the cases pending before him as of December 28. The following day the judges of the Western District of Oklahoma advised the Judicial Council that all judges of that Disrict had agreed on the division of new business filed in that court, but that they could not agree on the assignment to other judges of cases then pending before Judge Chandler.

On January 27, 1966, the Judicial Council again convened in special session and ordered a hearing on Feb-

Page 80

ruary 10, 1966, in Oklahoma City at which Judge Chandler was invited to appear, with counsel if he desired. However, by February 4, when the Council met again, it had been advised that no judge of the Western District, including Judge Chandler, desired to be heard pursuant to the order for hearing. Accordingly, no hearing took place.

At this same meeting on February 4, 1966, the Council concluded that there was a disagreement among the District Judges of the Western District as to the division of business; it reached this conclusion on the basis of the disagreement between Judge Chandler and the other District Judges as to the reassignment of cases previously assigned to Judge Chandler as of December 28, 1965. The Council accordingly, acting under 28 U.S.C. §§ 137 and 332, entered an order authorizing Judge Chandler to continue to sit on cases filed and asssigned to him prior to December 28, 1965; the Order assigned to the other judges of the Western District cases filed after that date. This Order of February 4 recited further that

'4. The division of business and assignment of cases made herein may be amended or modified by written order signed by all active judges of the Western District of Oklahoma, provided that nothing contained herein shall be construed as preventing Judge Chandler from surrendering any pending cases for re-assignment to another active judge or to prevent transfer between judges to whom new business is assigned pursuant to this order.

'5. This order supersedes the orders of the Council entered on December 13, 1965, and on January 27, 1966, entitled 'In the Matter of the Honorable Stephen S. Chandler, United States District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma' and shall remain in effect until the further order of the Council.'

Page 81

On February 9, 1966, the Solicitor General filed a memorandum on behalf of the Council suggesting that in light of the above developments, namely the confirmation of Judge Chandler's authority to dispose of the case load then before him and the assignment of new business in accordance with an order previously agreed to by Judge Chandler, the case had become moot since there was nothing more to argue about. To this memorandum Judge Chandler filed a reply on February 25, 1966, contesting the suggestion that he had acquiesced in the Council's actions. Judge Chandler argued that his acquiescence in the division of new business settled upon by his fellow district judges was given deliberately for reasons of 'strategy' in order to prevent any possibility that the Council could find that 'the district judges * * * are unable to agree upon the adoption of rules or orders' for the distribution of business and assignment of cases under 28 U.S.C. § 137.

A supplemental memorandum filed by the Solicitor General on behalf of the Council expressed the latter's position that Judge Chandler should dispose of his pending docket of pre-December 28, 1965, cases before seeking assignment of new cases. In view of Judge Chandler's expressed disagreement with the February 4 Order the Solicitor General withdrew the suggestion of mootness. Later in March 1966 Judge Chandler submitted a reply to that supplemental memorandum asserting that the Council was continuing to act beyond its authority by purporting to require that he certify to it his subsequent willingness and ability to undertake new business. He contended that the supplemental memorandum setting forth the condition that he must apply for assignment was in effect a new order fixing still another condition on the exercise of his judicial office.

On July 12, 1967, the Judicial Council convened and, in light of a report from the District Judges of the

Page 82

Western District showing that Judge Chandler had only 12 cases then pending, concluded that a modification of...

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139 practice notes
  • GRAHAM COUNTY SOIL, WATER v. US ex rel. Wilson, No. 08-304.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 30, 2009
    ...III The term "administrative" "may, in various contexts, bear a range of related meanings," Chandler v. Judicial Council of Tenth Circuit, 398 U.S. 74, 103, n. 8, 90 S.Ct. 1648, 26 L.Ed.2d 100 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring in denial of writ), pertaining to private bodies as well as to gove......
  • U.S. v. Garcia, Docket No. 03-1407-CR(L).
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • June 21, 2005
    ...they certainly are not. See Laird v. Tatum, 409 U.S. 824, 834, 93 S.Ct. 7, 34 L.Ed.2d 50 (1972) (quoting Chandler v. Judicial Council, 398 U.S. 74, 137, 90 S.Ct. 1648, 26 L.Ed.2d 100 (1970) (Douglas, J., dissenting)). But the fact that all district judges possess direct sentencing experienc......
  • Alappat, In re, No. 92-1381
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • July 29, 1994
    ...influence in rendering decisions is unquestionably a basic concept of jurisprudence. See Chandler v. Judicial Council of Tenth Circuit, 398 U.S. 74, 84, 90 S.Ct. 1648, 1653, 26 L.Ed.2d 100 (1970) ("There can, of course, be no disagreement among us as to the imperative need for total and abs......
  • US v. Smith, No. 87-CR-374.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • March 25, 1988
    ...to promulgate their own rules but also to establish some system of self-management is clear and logical, Chandler v. Judicial Council, 398 U.S. 74, 84-85, 90 S.Ct. 1648, 1653-1654, 26 L.Ed.2d 100 (1970).23 But to extrapolate the concept that any system of rules of assistance to the judicial......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
139 cases
  • GRAHAM COUNTY SOIL, WATER v. US ex rel. Wilson, No. 08-304.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 30, 2009
    ...III The term "administrative" "may, in various contexts, bear a range of related meanings," Chandler v. Judicial Council of Tenth Circuit, 398 U.S. 74, 103, n. 8, 90 S.Ct. 1648, 26 L.Ed.2d 100 (1970) (Harlan, J., concurring in denial of writ), pertaining to private bodies as well as to gove......
  • U.S. v. Garcia, Docket No. 03-1407-CR(L).
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • June 21, 2005
    ...they certainly are not. See Laird v. Tatum, 409 U.S. 824, 834, 93 S.Ct. 7, 34 L.Ed.2d 50 (1972) (quoting Chandler v. Judicial Council, 398 U.S. 74, 137, 90 S.Ct. 1648, 26 L.Ed.2d 100 (1970) (Douglas, J., dissenting)). But the fact that all district judges possess direct sentencing experienc......
  • Alappat, In re, No. 92-1381
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • July 29, 1994
    ...influence in rendering decisions is unquestionably a basic concept of jurisprudence. See Chandler v. Judicial Council of Tenth Circuit, 398 U.S. 74, 84, 90 S.Ct. 1648, 1653, 26 L.Ed.2d 100 (1970) ("There can, of course, be no disagreement among us as to the imperative need for total and abs......
  • US v. Smith, No. 87-CR-374.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • March 25, 1988
    ...to promulgate their own rules but also to establish some system of self-management is clear and logical, Chandler v. Judicial Council, 398 U.S. 74, 84-85, 90 S.Ct. 1648, 1653-1654, 26 L.Ed.2d 100 (1970).23 But to extrapolate the concept that any system of rules of assistance to the judicial......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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