Chandler v. Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit

RESPONDENT: Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit
LOCATION: United States District Court for the District of Columbia

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)

CITATION: 398 US 74 (1970)
ARGUED: Dec 10, 1969
DECIDED: Jun 01, 1970

Facts of the case


Media for Chandler v. Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 10, 1969 in Chandler v. Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit

Warren E. Burger:

Chandler against the Judicial Council.

Good morning, Mr. Kenan, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Thomas J. Kenan:

Thank you sir, may it please the Court.

Gentlemen, this is a case that's here on motion for leave to file a petition for a writ of prohibition and/or mandamus in the matter of the Honorable Stephen Chandler, Judge of the Western District of Oklahoma against the Tenth Judicial Council of the United States.

I will briefly state the facts in this matter.

On December 13, 1965, the Judicial Council of the Tenth Circuit entered a -- entered an order, held after a secret meeting at which Judge Chandler was not able to be present, and the order effectively stripped Judge Chandler of all of his powers.

He was ordered not to hear any of the cases assigned to him, nor was he to be allowed to hear any further cases that would be filed in his Court.

The other judges of his court were ordered to divide Judge Chan -- Judge Chandler's cases among themselves and to enter into a new order of business whereby none of the future cases filed in the court could be assigned to Judge Chandler.

Potter Stewart:

How many judges are there in that district, Mr. Kenan?

Thomas J. Kenan:

Your Honor, I think there's three, maybe four -- four judges.

There's also an inactive judge, or there was at the time.

Potter Stewart:

A senior judge?

Thomas J. Kenan:

Yes, sir.

This order was signed by the members of the Judicial Council, not as members of Judicial Council but as circuit judges.

It was filed in the Tenth Circuit Court.

It was filed in the Western District Court and a Deputy Marshal was ordered to serve it on Judge Chandler.

Warren E. Burger:

How do you distinguish -- how do you discern the form in which they act?

Thomas J. Kenan:

Well, sir, the order itself, the signators or the judges who signed it beneath their signators, they said Circuit Judge.

This point, Your Honor, I bring up because it does have some bearing upon the jurisdiction of this Court.

It does enter into that argument.

It does have to do with whether or not these judges were entertaining judicial powers or administrative powers.

They were clothing about themselves the powers of the judicial offices, which they held when they signed the order, Circuit Judge, filed at the court and they got a Deputy Marshal to serve it.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, when all the judges -- all of the circuit judges of a given circuit assemble and meet to address themselves to any business other than an en banc hearing, are they not acting as a Judicial Council?

Thomas J. Kenan:

I don't believe they are, Your Honor.

Section 332 of Title 28 provides that a meeting of the Judicial Council shall be called by the Chief Judge at least twice a year.

I'm not convinced that the Chief Judge can't call a meeting of the circuit judges for other reasons.

If another a judge calls a meeting, is it a proper meeting of the Judicial Council?

According to the statute, only the Chief Judge can call it.

Warren E. Burger:

But some Judicial Councils meet once a month, sometimes twice a month, sometimes three times a month, depending on the nature and the quantity of the administrative problems they have before them.

I'm speaking now of me --