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Legislation to Realign Divisions Passes Congress

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Congress has passed and the President is expected to sign into law, H.R. 5512, the Divisional Realignment Act of 2012. The legislation, introduced in May, realigns divisions in the U.S. District Courts in the Eastern District of Missouri and the Northern District of Mississippi to allow the courts to better manage cases for the benefit of litigants and jurors. The realignment was proposed by the Judicial Conference of the United States in March 2012. 

In the Eastern District of Missouri, the legislation will transfer Iron and Saint Genevieve Counties from the Eastern Division to the Southeastern Division. Court for the Southeastern Division is held at Cape Girardeau. The shift will help equalize the workload of the two divisions, and also decrease travel distances for attorneys and jurors in the affected counties.

In the Northern District of Mississippi, the bill will eliminate the Delta Division by reallocating the eight counties in that division among the district’s three remaining divisions. The Delta Division does not contain a federal courthouse. The changes to both judicial districts will take effect 60 days after enactment of the bill.

The Divisional Realignment Act was introduced in the House by Representative Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), with co-sponsors Representatives Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Gregg Harper (R-MS), and Alan Nunnelee (R-MS).  A companion bill was introduced in the Senate as S. 3293 by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), with Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) joining as co-sponsors.