PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) – A vacancy on a Boston-based federal appeals court remains unfilled 14 months after Judge Bruce Selya announced he would scale back his caseload and assume part-time senior status.

Selya said in March 2006 that he planned to retire from full-time service on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by the end of last year. Though he is on senior status and doesn’t get to vote on which cases will be heard by the entire court, Selya still maintains a full caseload.

“I enjoy it,” said Selya, 72, who has served on the court since 1986. “I’m not complaining, but talk to my wife and you might get a different story.”

The 1st Circuit handles cases from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Puerto Rico. The court is authorized to have six active judges.

Former Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee last year recommended Robert G. Flanders Jr., a former Rhode Island Supreme Court justice, to replace Selya. But the White House has not taken any action on Chafee’s recommendation.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who defeated Chafee in last November’s election, said he thought Flanders had little chance of being nominated.

“There is still no signal out of the White House that he will be put forward,” Whitehouse said. “They’ve had his name for all this time and haven’t put it forward.”

He said the controversy in Washington surrounding the firing of U.S. attorneys might have delayed the process of filling the vacancy.

The Judicial Conference of the United States, which sets federal court policy, has declared the vacancy a “judicial emergency” – a designation used for vacancies in an appellate court with more than 700 cases filed for each three-judge panel.


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