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Public Statements

Divisional Realignment Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of my bill, H.R. 5512, the Divisional Realignment Act of 2012, which will improve court management for the United States District Courts in the Northern District of Mississippi and the Eastern District of Missouri.

I introduced this bill to help realign counties in those Federal judicial districts, which includes a change that affects counties within my own congressional district. I am pleased to have my colleagues in the Mississippi delegation who represent impacted counties join me as original cosponsors, Congressman Harper and NUNNELEE. In Missouri, Representatives EMERSON and CARNAHAN, whose congressional districts overlay the counties affected by the change there, also joined as original cosponsors.

H.R. 5512 will primarily eliminate the Delta Division--one of four existing statutory divisions--in the Northern District of Mississippi. To accomplish this, the eight counties in the Delta Division will be absorbed into the other divisions, while some counties from the other divisions will be realigned.

The proposed also renames the Eastern Division as the Aberdeen Division and the Western Division as the Oxford Division. The two places authorized to hold court now for the Delta Division would continue to exist under the realignment within the Greenville division.

The Delta Division, unlike the other three divisions, is not serviced by a Federal courthouse. This fact has created unnecessary issues regarding venue and jury selection. The realignment will ensure that all counties in the district are statutorily linked to divisions with courthouses. It will also be more economical for jury travel and will more fairly balance the caseload in the Northern District.

This realignment is supported by the judges of the Northern District of Mississippi, the Fifth Circuit Judicial Council, and the Judicial Conference of the United States. In addition, the proposal is backed by the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Regarding the Eastern District of Missouri, H.R. 5512 simply shifts two counties from the Eastern Division to the Southeastern Division.

This adjustment will enhance convenient access to court services for the public and improve judicial administration of the case load.

More specifically, the realignment will allow cases for those two counties to be held in Cape Girardeau, which has a new state-of-the-art Federal courthouse. This location is also closer for citizens in those counties than in the St. Louis location where the court is now held. As a result, the change will lessen the burden on jurors traveling, as well as lessen the cost of mileage expenses. In addition, a shift will better align the places of holding court with the total population served today.

This realignment is supported by the judges of the Eastern District of Missouri, the Eighth Judicial Circuit Council, and the Judicial Conference of the United States. In addition, it is supported by the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Lastly, I note that the bill under consideration today has been amended by adding a section that establishes a 60-day delayed effective date. This will ensure that both courts have sufficient time to transition court operations through local orders and scheduling.

Mr. Speaker, the House Judiciary Committee reported the Divisional Realignment Act favorably by a voice vote on May 16. I urge my colleagues to support this necessary, bipartisan and noncontroversial bill, which would help constituents and improve Federal court operations in my home State of Mississippi and in the State of Missouri.


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