B-155058, SEP. 21, 1964

B-155058: Sep 21, 1964

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

JUDGE BODY WAS APPOINTED ON APRIL 4. YOU WISH TO KNOW WHETHER IT IS APPROPRIATE FOR JUDGE BODY TO CONTINUE EASTON AS HIS OFFICIAL STATION AND TO CLAIM PER DIEM WITH THE SAME REGULARITY WHILE TRANSACTING OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT PHILADELPHIA. SHALL BE THAT PLACE WHERE A DISTRICT COURT IS REGULARLY HELD AND AT OR NEAR WHICH THE JUDGE PERFORMS A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF HIS JUDICIAL WORK. WHICH IS NEAREST THE PLACE WHERE HE MAINTAINS AN ACTUAL ABODE IN WHICH HE CUSTOMARILY LIVES. THE LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE IS IDENTICAL WITH THAT RECOMMENDED TO THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES BY A SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE CONFERENCE. AS FOLLOWS: "THE PURPOSE OF THE PHRASE IN OUR PROPOSED AMENDMENT "AT OR NEAR WHICH THE JUDGE PERFORMS A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF HIS JUDICIAL WORK" IS TO ELIMINATE THE POSSIBILITY.

B-155058, SEP. 21, 1964

TO THE HONORABLE WARREN OLNEY III, DIRECTOR, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS:

YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 21, 1964, REQUESTS OUR OPINION CONCERNING THE PROPER OFFICIAL STATION OF THE HONORABLE RALPH C. BODY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA.

JUDGE BODY WAS APPOINTED ON APRIL 4, 1962, AND DESIGNATED EASTON, PENNSYLVANIA, AS HIS OFFICIAL STATION. HOWEVER, DUE TO THE FACT THAT EASTON HAS NO FACILITIES FOR JURY TRIALS AND THE BACKLOG OF CIVIL JURY TRIALS, JUDGE BODY HAS BEEN ASSIGNED PRACTICALLY CONTINUOUSLY TO PHILADELPHIA WHERE HE HAS SPENT 410 OUT OF 518 WORKING DAYS SINCE HIS APPOINTMENT. YOU WISH TO KNOW WHETHER IT IS APPROPRIATE FOR JUDGE BODY TO CONTINUE EASTON AS HIS OFFICIAL STATION AND TO CLAIM PER DIEM WITH THE SAME REGULARITY WHILE TRANSACTING OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA.

28 U.S.C. 456 PROVIDES IN PERTINENT PART THAT:

"THE OFFICIAL STATION OF EACH CIRCUIT AND DISTRICT JUDGE, INCLUDING EACH DISTRICT JUDGE IN THE TERRITORIES AND POSSESSIONS, SHALL BE THAT PLACE WHERE A DISTRICT COURT IS REGULARLY HELD AND AT OR NEAR WHICH THE JUDGE PERFORMS A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF HIS JUDICIAL WORK, WHICH IS NEAREST THE PLACE WHERE HE MAINTAINS AN ACTUAL ABODE IN WHICH HE CUSTOMARILY LIVES.

"EACH CIRCUIT JUDGE AND EACH DISTRICT JUDGE * * * SHALL UPON HIS APPOINTMENT AND FROM TIME TO TIME THEREAFTER AS HIS OFFICIAL STATION MAY CHANGE, NOTIFY THE DIRECTOR OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES COURTS IN WRITING OF HIS ACTUAL ABODE AND HIS OFFICIAL STATION.'

THE LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE IS IDENTICAL WITH THAT RECOMMENDED TO THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES BY A SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE CONFERENCE. IN COMMENTING UPON ITS RECOMMENDATION THE SUBCOMMITTEE SAYS, IN PERTINENT PART, AS FOLLOWS:

"THE PURPOSE OF THE PHRASE IN OUR PROPOSED AMENDMENT "AT OR NEAR WHICH THE JUDGE PERFORMS A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION OF HIS JUDICIAL WORK" IS TO ELIMINATE THE POSSIBILITY, WHICH THE PRESENT LAW PERMITS, OF A JUDGE CLAIMING AS HIS OFFICIAL STATION A PLACE AT OR NEAR WHICH HE PERFORMS NO SUBSTANTIAL JUDICIAL WORK. IT IS THE OPINION OF YOUR COMMITTEE THAT SUCH A CLAIM WOULD VIOLATE THE PURPOSE ALTHOUGH NOT THE LANGUAGE OF THE PRESENT LAW, AND THAT THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH A CLAIM IN FUTURE SHOULD BE ELIMINATED BY THE PROPOSED CLARIFYING AMENDMENTS.'

SEE H.DOC. NO. 163, AND H.REPT. NO. 915, 83D CONG., 1ST SESS.

WE RECOGNIZE THAT THE TERM "SUBSTANTIAL PORTION" IS A RELATIVE TERM TO BE GAUGED BY THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND THAT JUDGE BODY'S OFFICIAL STATION IS TO BE DETERMINED BY HIM UNDER 28 U.S.C. 456. IN OUR OPINION, HOWEVER, SINCE THE JUDGE'S PRESENT WORKING SITUATION--- WITH PHILADELPHIA BEING THE SITE OF MOST OF HIS WORK SO THAT NO SUBSTANTIAL JUDICIAL WORK APPEARS TO BE PERFORMED AT EASTON--- HAS REMAINED CONSTANT FOR A CONSIDERABLE LENGTH OF TIME AND NO CHANGES IN THE SITUATION ARE ANTICIPATED; IT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE FOR HIM AT THIS TIME TO REEXAMINE THE ORIGINAL DETERMINATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS OF THE STATUTE. IN THE EVENT SUCH ACTION IS NOT TAKEN BY THE JUDGE, OUR OPINION IS THAT YOU WOULD HAVE A REASONABLE JUSTIFICATION FOR SUSPENDING FUTURE MAINTENANCE PAYMENTS INCIDENT TO THE TRANSACTION OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS AT PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, AND REPORTING THE ACTION TO THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES FOR ITS ..END :