From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi Introduces Legislation to Designate San Francisco Courthouse in honor of James R. Browning

November 20 , 2003

"Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that today I am introducing legislation to designate the United States Courthouse located at 95 Seventh Street in San Francisco, California as the ``James R. Browning United States Courthouse,'' to honor Judge Browning for his lifetime of outstanding public service.

"James R. Browning was born in Great Falls, Montana, and received his law degree from the University of Montana. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, worked in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, practiced in a law firm, and served as Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed James Browning to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He dedicated the rest of his career to the Ninth Circuit, becoming the longest serving judge in the history of the circuit. Judge Browning became very active in the Judicial Conference of the United States, serving on a number of committees that worked to strengthen the federal judiciary.

"Upon becoming Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit in 1976, Judge Browning focused on improving the function of the circuit, which was struggling with a large backlog of cases and delays in appeal decisions. Due to his efforts and innovative practices, additional judges were added to the court of appeals, the time required to decide appeals was cut in half, and the backlog was eliminated. He also improved communication among the justices, emphasizing the importance of good colleague rapport. His innovations were studied and adopted by other circuit courts, and he has received several prestigious awards in recognition of his achievements.

"Judge Browning's contributions to national jurisprudence are also outstanding. During his forty-two years on the Ninth Circuit, Judge Browning has participated in almost 1000 published appellate decisions and authored many other unsigned per curiam opinions. In a 2001 tribute, a colleague described him as ``the consummate appellate judge ..... he treats each case that comes before him with careful attention and produces succinct, clearly reasoned opinions.'' Colleagues have also lauded him for his seminal contributions to national antitrust jurisprudence and his attentiveness to ensuring that citizens have access to the justice system.

"Judge Browning stepped down as Chief Judge in 1988 but did not retire, remaining an active circuit judge and a member of myriad committees and judicial groups. He took senior status in September 2000. His activities have been significantly curtailed due to declining health. It is my hope that we can enact this bill in the 108th Congress, so that Judge Browning can witness this much-deserved tribute to his lifetime of public service.

"Judge Browning's achievements would be fittingly acknowledged by naming the historic federal building at Seventh and Mission streets in his honor. As one of his supporters said, ``A great and sturdy courthouse needs the name of a great and sturdy judge.'' I invite my colleagues to cosponsor the ``James R. Browning United States Courthouse'' bill."




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