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On Scalia: Former U.S. District Judge Fred Biery "...nothing will happen before the next president is elected."


 On Scalia: Former U.S. District Judge Fred Biery "...nothing will happen before the next president is elected." 
By: Michael D. Tobin

(April 13, 2017 UPDATE: youtube audio of my podcast episode titled,  

MOAB, Dead Judges, Korea, Russian SUBS, Syria






  By now you have most likely read up a lot on Supreme Court Associate Justice, Antonin Scalia. Along with all the ins and outs of the dire consequences possible. But I am sticking with the initial report, from a local news source to where he died, My San Antonio. In it, Former U.S. West Texas District Judge Sammuel Fred Biery said that he believes a replacement will not be confirmed until after the next election. "U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said he was among those notified about Scalia's death."I was told it was this morning," Biery said of Scalia's death. "It happened on a ranch out near Marfa. As far as the details, I think it's pretty vague right now as to how," he said. "My reaction is it's very unfortunate. It's unfortunate with any death, and politically in the presidential cycle we're in, my educated guess is nothing will happen before the next president is elected.""
  I am sticking to what Judge Biery had initially said, because given his position in the courts as a U.S. District Judge, I believe his source of knowledge can be trusted, no matter all the angst and panic which ensued since the unfortunate passing of SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia.
  My prayers are most definitely fervent, for our future, nation, courts and society. God bless America. Here is the link and article to the My San Antonio report from the day of Justice Scalia passing. Feel free to select the link. Also, below this link I have another article dealing with U.S. Justice Brier being replaced January of this year by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, who recently overturned the Texas banning of same-sex marriages as being un Constitutional, quoting, "When the new year begins, there will be a changing of the guard for the federal bench here. U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, known for headline-grabbing decisions, is stepping down after six years as chief judge of the Western District of Texas and handing the reins to his colleague, District Judge Orlando Garcia.
  So while everyone else is looking all over the place instead of the right place, on who will be the next replacement of Scalia supposing that current Administration does indeed replace Scalia before next elections, I believe the answer is right in this article, "Federal court gets its 10th chief judge", which will be at the bottom of the following article. It appears in Texas there's a lot of malice in the proverbial palace concerning federal Judges, and the Honorable SCOTUS judge Antonin Scalia was not amongst the friendliest of peers where he was last alive, because as the lower article mentions, Judge Garcia seems to have been slightly disappointed that he was not sworn in a month before Biery was, which would have made Garcia next in line to be in Biery's post now. So it looks like garcia is now there, and now, ironically, next in line as a SCOTUS candidate succeeding Scalia, to create the first ever majority of either liberal or conservative leaning Supreme Court Justice panel since it's founding. I hope Biery is correct.



U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found dead at West Texas ranch


Updated 1:52 pm, Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.
Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

Scalia arrived at the 30,000-acre ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people that night, according to a federal official.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found dead at West Texas ranch


Updated 1:52 pm, Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.
Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.
Scalia arrived at the 30,000-acre ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people that night, according to a federal official. He left the party and retired to bed earlier than others, according to Donna Sellers, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Marshals Service.
When he failed to appear at breakfast, a person involved with the ranch went to his room, where he discovered his body. A priest was called to administer last rites.
A federal official, who asked not to be named, said there was no evidence of foul play and it appeared that Scalia died of natural causes.
Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, of the Western Judicial District of Texas, was notified about the death from the U.S. Marshals Service.   
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said he was among those notified about Scalia's death.
"I was told it was this morning," Biery said of Scalia's death. "It happened on a ranch out near Marfa. As far as the details, I think it's pretty vague right now as to how," he said. "My reaction is it's very unfortunate. It's unfortunate with any death, and politically in the presidential cycle we're in, my educated guess is nothing will happen before the next president is elected."
The U.S. Marshal Service, the Presidio County sheriff and the FBI were involved in the investigation.
Officials with the law enforcement agencies declined to comment.
A gray Cadillac hearse pulled into the ranch Saturday afternoon and left about 5 p.m. The hearse came from Alpine Memorial Funeral Home.
Scalia's body was taken to El Paso, where it will be escorted back the nation's capital by U.S. marshals and U.S. Supreme Court Police.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement Saturday afternoon, calling Scalia a man of God, a patriot and an "unwavering defender of the written Constitution."
"He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution," Abbott said. "We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers."
Scalia's death has far-reaching implications for the Supreme Court and a round of major cases the justices are set to decide this summer, including Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which challenges the university's affirmative action policy, plus a case that contests Obama's immigration policy and another that reexamines the meaning of "one person, one vote," said former U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez.
President Barack Obama is unlikely to successfully name a new justice to replace Scalia before his second presidential term ends, Gonzalez said, because Congress will block any appointment he tries to make.
"I don't see that the Republican-led Senate would confirm anybody chosen by President Obama," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez only met Scalia once, when he spotted the justice walking in the U.S. Capital to view a Supreme Court exhibit. Gonzalez asked him how Scalia was doing; Scalia said, "Fine."
"I prevailed in my only exchange with the Supreme Court," Gonzalez said.
The death immediately became an issue in the presidential race as during a GOP debate Saturday night, five of the six candidates taking part urged Republicans to block any attempt by the president to get his third nominee on the court.
Only Jeb Bush said Obama had "every right" to nominate a justice during his final year in office.
President Obama, in remarks to the nation, praised Scalia as a brilliant legal mind who influenced a generation of lawyers and students.
The President also announced his intentions to nominate a successor, saying he plans to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to fill the vacancy.
Scalia was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.
Staff writers Vianna Davila, Tyler White, Richard A. Marini and John MacCormack and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Federal court gets its 10th chief judge

Predecessor Biery held title 6 years

December 27, 2015 Updated: December 27, 2015 10:37pm

  



When the new year begins, there will be a changing of the guard for the federal bench here.
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, known for headline-grabbing decisions, is stepping down after six years as chief judge of the Western District of Texas and handing the reins to his colleague, District Judge Orlando Garcia.

  
Garcia, 63, will oversee a large swath of  territory that ranges from San Antonio across West Texas, a budget of nearly $100 million and 800 employees. The district is headquartered in San Antonio and also has courthouses in Waco, Austin, Del Rio, Midland-Odessa, Pecos, Alpine and El Paso.
It is the second-busiest of the 94 districts in the country in terms of criminal cases it handles: 5,700 of them a year, along with 3,400 civil cases. The district has 12 active district judges, five senior district judges and 16 magistrate judges, Garcia said.
He will become the 10th chief judge of the district, which was created in 1857. The first was Ben Rice, who held the post from 1948 to 1962. The chief judge generally is designated by a jurist’s seniority or tenure on the bench, Garcia said.
Biery, 68, and Garcia served on the state’s 4th Court of Appeals before they came to the federal bench in 1994 after being appointed by President Bill Clinton. Both were sworn in on the same day — Biery minutes before Garcia.
“If I had been sworn in two weeks before him, I would have been chief judge first,” said Garcia, who also previously served as a state representative.
The pair have somewhat different styles on the bench. Biery sometimes halts proceedings to reminisce with court-goers about his time growing up in the Jefferson High School area. He also regularly crafts his opinions and rulings with quotes or doses of history. In 2013, for instance, he refereed a lawsuit filed by strip clubs against the city of San Antonio’s efforts to have exotic dancers cover up more during performances. His injunction that sided with the city came peppered with double-entendres, drawing both chuckles and criticism.
In 2011, Biery sided with the parents of an agnostic student at Medina Valley High School and issued rules barring organized prayer during its graduation. That drew threats and calls to oust him from the bench. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his ruling and allowed a valedictorian to lead a prayer at commencement ceremonies.
Observers note Garcia’s sharp sense of outrage and indignation, coupled with some of San Antonio’s sternest federal sentences. Before the Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal in all 50 states, Garcia found Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. This year, he threatened to hold Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in contempt to get the state to adhere to the top court’s ruling.
Becoming chief judge doesn’t mean Garcia will have appellate or supervisory authority over any of the other district judges, as Biery noted in an exit memo to other judges. But it does mean Garcia will take on administrative functions that will require roughly 25 percent of his time in addition to his regular docket.
“We get extra duties,” Garcia said. “No extra pay.”
During Biery’s time as chief justice, the district was hit hard by budget sequestration. Federal courts’ staffing fell to the lowest levels since 1999 after funding allocations in 2013 were cut 10 percent below fiscal 2012 levels. Western District operating hours were reduced, and some longtime staffers retired early, their posts left vacant. In San Antonio, the court held hearings only on civil cases on Fridays while public defenders were on furlough.
Politicians in Washington took a staggering six years to fill a vacant judgeship in San Antonio. Senior U.S. District Judge Royal Ferguson moved to Dallas in 2008 and his caseload had to be divvied up until December 2014, when the Senate confirmed former U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman to the bench.
In early December, a 5th Circuit disciplinary judicial council issued a public reprimand of U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. of Waco after it spent a year investigating allegations that he had sexually harassed a female clerk in 1998. He was prohibited from taking new cases for a year, further straining resources. Biery ordered visiting judges or Waco’s federal magistrate judge to take on Smith’s workload.
Garcia notes that he’ll also be dealing with trying to fill some key gaps. There’s a judicial vacancy in Pecos that other judges in the district will take turns covering, and “a responsibility to assure judicial duties are covered in Waco because of the sanctions imposed there,” Garcia said, referring to the Smith situation.
Additionally, Garcia will help keep an eye on construction of the new federal courthouse after U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez succeeded — with help from fellow judges, the city and the business community — in persuading Congress to fund it.
“Judge Rodriguez is the primary point, but I’ll have some role in it,” Garcia said. “It’s several, several years overdue.”
Biery notes that the chief judge attends judicial conferences and regional administrative gatherings, fills speaking engagements and handles day-to-day minutiae.
“For dealing with all of the above, you will have your portrait in the (court) rotunda, get to sit in the middle for court pictures, and have the assistance of one extra staff member whom you will find exceedingly important regarding scheduling, calendaring, travel planning, etc.,” Biery’s memo said. “And there will be inevitable events that happen that cannot be planned for, such as 30,000 bees in and around our Midland facility. Lastly, and unfortunately, you will find that at or about age 65, your energy level and desire to deal with the foregoing will wane.”
gcontreras@express-news.net
Twitter: @gmaninfedland

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