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After Criticism, 9th Circuit Cancels 2013 Conference

After being pressured by Senate Republicans over the cost concerns of an upcoming judicial conference in Maui, Hawaii, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced that it has canceled next year’s annual conference and will hold the 2014 conference in Monterey, Calif.

“We firmly believe in the importance of the Conference in educating the federal bench and bar and in advancing governance of the Circuit. But we also recognize the need to conserve financial resources during the present fiscal crisis,” Circuit and Court of Appeals Executive Cathy A. Catterson said. “We think this approach will meet both goals.”

The 9th Circuit announced on its website that it would reschedule its 2013 Circuit Conference to 2014 in Monterey.

“The postponement responds to the current budget constraints facing the federal judiciary and the federal government in general,” the court’s website said. “The decision was reached earlier this week after consultation with the host hotel in Monterey, the Hyatt Regency.”

The move comes after Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) wrote to Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May raising concerns “about the overall cost of” the Maui conference, which is still set for August.

“After weeks of scrutiny, it’s good to see a response at last to criticism of expensive conferences,” Grassley said in a release. “However, while an encouraging sign, cancelling next year’s conference does not necessarily signal lasting change. This year’s conference is likely to be expensive, and future events could be expensive, as well. I’m looking for long-term spending reductions and restraint on conference expenditures.”

According to the circuit’s website, the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference has been held annually since 1944. Conferees include federal judges, lawyers, court staff, academics and government officials. Along with educational programs, the event allows attendees to meet in small groups.

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