Chandler v. Judicial Council - 398 U.S. 74 (1970)


U.S. Supreme Court

Chandler v. Judicial Council, 398 U.S. 74 (1970)

Chandler v. Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit

No. 2, Misc.

Argued December 10, 1969

Decided June 1, 1970

398 U.S. 74

Syllabus

On December 13, 1965, respondent, the Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit, acting under 28 U.S.C. § 332, issued an order finding that petitioner was unable or unwilling to discharge his duties efficiently as a district judge for the Western District of Oklahoma (hereafter the district) and directing that he should not act in any case then or thereafter pending therein, that, until the Council's further order, no cases filed in the district were to be assigned to petitioner, and that, if all the active judges in the district could not agree upon the division of business and case assignments necessitated by the order, the Council, acting under 28 U.S.C. § 137, would make such division and assignments as it deemed proper. Petitioner filed with this Court a motion for leave to file a petition for a writ of prohibition and/or mandamus directed to the Council and sought a stay of its order. The Court denied a stay on the ground that the order was interlocutory and that petitioner would be permitted to appear at further proceedings before the Council. A hearing, scheduled for February 10, 1966, was not held, the Council having been advised that no district judge, including petitioner, desired a hearing. On February 4 the Council, acting under §§ 137 and 332, issued an order, which superseded its previous orders dealing with petitioner, authorizing petitioner to sit on cases assigned to him before December 28, 1965, and assigning to other judges of the district cases filed thereafter. On September 1, 1967, those judges and petitioner (who had previously expressed disagreement with the February 4 Order and the Council's "illegal effort" to create a situation in which it could assign cases under 28 U.S.C. § 137) advised the Council that "the current order for the division of business in this district is agreeable under the circumstances." The Council, which had considered modifying the February 4, 1966, Order in view of the small number of cases petitioner had then pending, thereupon let the February 4 Order stand. Petitioner contends that the Council's orders relating to the assignment of cases in

Page 398 U. S. 75

the district impose unlawful conditions on the exercise of his constitutional powers as a judge and usurp the impeachment powers vested in Congress. He claims that his acquiescence in the division of the business of the district resulted from "duress" of the December 13 Order, and that it was also a matter of "strategy" to avoid the appearance of the absence of agreement among the district judges as to a division of work which would enable the Council to act under § 137. The Council contends, inter alia, that its action was solely administrative, and cannot be reviewed as an original proceeding by this Court.

Held: Whether or not the Council's action is reviewable here, petitioner, in the present posture of this case, is not entitled to the extraordinary remedy that he seeks, since, after expressly acquiescing in the division of business in the district, following revocation of the Order of December 13 1965, by the Order of February 4, 1966, he has not sought relief either from the Council or other tribunal, and such relief may yet be open to him. Pp. 398 U. S. 84-89.

Motion denied.



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