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A visiting judge is a judge appointed to hear a case as a member of a court to which he or she does not ordinarily belong. In United States federal courts, this is referred to as an assignment "by designation" of the Chief Justice of the United States (for inter-circuit assignments) or the Circuit Chief Judge (for intra-circuit assignments), and is authorized by 28 U.S.C. § 292 (for active district judges) or 28 U.S.C. § 294 (for retired justices and judges).
In many United States Courts of Appeals it is not uncommon for a district judge to sit on a panel as a visiting judge; less frequently it is a judge from another circuit (in active service or, more commonly, in senior status). Retired Supreme Court justices have done the same, including Justices O'Connor and Souter, and very unusually, sitting Justices (in 1984, for example, then-Justice William Rehnquist served as a visiting judge for a jury trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.). This is sometimes done to ease caseload pressures, and sometimes (as in Rehnquist's case) for experience.
- Baker, Dan (April 25, 2012). "Sitting by Designation". Nota Bene: a blog by the librarians of the University of Houston O'Quinn Law Library. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Stahl-Reisdorff, Nicholle. "The Use of Visiting Judges in the Federal District Courts: A Guide for Judges & Court Personnel" (PDF). Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Saltzman, Jonathan (April 29, 2008). "O'Connor to Hear Cases as Visiting Judge to Hub Court: Ex-Justice to Serve US Appeals Court". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Thomas, Evan (June 30, 1986). "Reagan's Mr. Right". Time. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
- Marek, Lynne (August 29, 2006). "Exacting Easterbrook to Be Chief of 7th Circuit". The National Law Journal. Retrieved May 19, 2013. Discussing Frank H. Easterbrook on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
- Kopf, Richard George (July 28, 2013). "Have Robe, Will Travel". Hercules and the Umpire: The Role of the Federal Trial Judge. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
A United States federal district judge's anecdotal description of the designation process: Let’s say you are prosecuting or defending a criminal or civil case in your local federal district court, and, out of the blue, your case get reassigned. Not only do you have new judge, but the new judge is a senior status district judge from far away.... How does that happen? Here’s a primer.
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