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Tucson judge to help review appeal system

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – An Arizonan will help retired Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White, federal judges and a past president of the American Bar Association study changing federal appellate courts.

That could include splitting up the sprawling 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, by far the largest of the nation’s 12 geographic judicial circuits.

The circuit – home to 50 million people – includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and Northern Marianna Islands.

The idea of splitting the 9th Circuit has been brewing in Congress for decades, and the Senate this year took the unprecedented step of voting to do just that. But the House voted only to appoint a commission to determine whether such a split is really a good idea.

Yesterday, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist appointed the members for the commission Congress established to study the structure and alignment of the appellate court system.

In addition to White, who served on the nation’s highest court for 31 years before his 1993 retirement, the commission’s members are appellate judges Gilbert S. Merritt of Nashville, Tenn., and Pamela Ann Rymer of Pasadena, Calif., trial judge William Browning of Tucson, and N. Lee Cooper, of Birmingham, Ala., a lawyer and past president of the American Bar Association.

The commission must report its findings to President Clinton and Congress within 12 months.

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