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Diane Humetewa Confirmed as First Native American Woman for U.S. Bench

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On Wednesday, the United States senate started to confirm six judges to the federal district court in Arizona, according to the Arizona Daily Star. This is one of the busiest courts in the country and it needed to declare a judicial emergency back in 2011.

Diane Humetewa is one of the nominees to the court. She became the very first Native American woman to serve on the federal bench with a 96-0 vote.

The chief judge for Arizona, Judge Raner Collins, said that seven judges have been handling a caseload that is typically handled by 13 judges.

“This will greatly reduce the workload on the remaining seven judges,” Collins said. “Just know that help is coming very quickly will help a lot. It’s hard work from our senators, hard from the White House, hard work from Congress. All those parties have to get together for this to happen.”

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Also confirmed with 96-0 votes were Judge Steven Paul Logan, who is the magistrate judge in Arizona federal court and John Joseph Tuchi, who is the chief assistant U.S. attorney for Arizona.

The State Bar of Arizona president, Whitney Cunningham, noted that federal court judges in Arizona have a caseload that is 20 percent larger than the average of the country.

With six bench seats open, the state has had to rely on visiting judges from other states or retired judges.

“We want our own judges who are members of Arizona’s bar and know our laws and know our jurisprudence. This is a great day for us. We get our judges back,” Cunningham said.

The judicial emergency was declared in 2011 by the then chief district judge, Rosalyn Silver. Silver declared the emergency to temporarily suspend the time limit needed to bring defendants to trial. A criminal trial is supposed to begin 70 days following a criminal complaint being filed, according to the Speedy Trial Act.

The judicial emergency extends the deadline to a max of 180 days. Silver called  for the emergency due to a lack of resources, a heavy load of cases and the death of Chief Judge John Roll. Roll was one of six people killed on January 8, 2011 at the Tucson shooting that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

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