A pending vote in the U.S. Senate on two judicial nominees for U.S. Middle District Court would help fill a vacancy in Williamsport's federal courthouse, two federal lawmakers said.
There has not been a sitting judge at the courthouse at 240 W. Third St. since 2009.
Earlier this year Matthew Brann, an attorney from Canton, and Magistrate Judge Malachy Mannion, of Scranton, were picked as nominees for the court by the Senate judiciary committee.
Because of the vacancies, judges with senior status continue to hear cases. Three of the judges are at least 86 years old.
The judicial emergency to fill the district vacancies is vital because the largest federal prison population in the U.S. exists at penitentiaries at Lewisburg and Allenwood, providing greater security risks during transport when the inmates must be brought by court officials, including U.S. Marshals Service, to their court appearances, according to U.S. Rep. Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station.
Recently, U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, and Bob Casey, D-Scranton, each expressed hope for a "quick" vote to occur, before the Senate adjourns at the end of year for its holiday break.
"I hope that we can work together to find a way to ensure that at least Brann and Mannion receive a confirmation vote in light of the unique circumstances surrounding the district," Toomey wrote in a letter to Senate leadership.
Toomey described the situation as a judicial emergency, as did Casey.
Casey, meanwhile, said given bipartisan support for the state nominees, he anticipated that Mannion and Brann would be confirmed. He also acknowledged the emergency exists and the need to fill vacancies is vital to judicial progress.
One fact is indisputable, with Toomey and Casey each stating they believe Brann and Mannion to be qualified and noncontroversial nominees.