Professor Pfander Honored by Federal-State Jurisdiction Committee

August 15, 2014

James Pfander, Owen L. Coon Professor of Law, was recently recognized for his work with the Federal-State Jurisdiction Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Pfander, who has served as a reporter/consultant to the Committee since 1998, was presented with a resolution in his honor at the Committee’s June meeting, held at Northwestern Law.

“It was a lovely gesture,” said Pfander. “It was especially nice of them to do that here at Northwestern with  students in attendance.”

Following the Committee’s business meeting, members joined students in Northwestern’s Judicial Practicum for lunch and a discussion of the work of the state and federal courts.

The Federal-State Jurisdiction Committee develops policy recommendations in response to legislation that would reallocate responsibilities between state and federal courts. It also deals with issues affecting US territorial courts and seeks to foster federal-state judicial cooperation. It meets twice a year and submits recommendations to the Judicial Conference of the United States, which determines whether to adopt the recommendations as Conference policy.

Pfander serves as a resource for Committee staff and judges seeking advice on the impact of proposed legislation. He also helps develop briefing books for the judges before they meet. A few years ago, he worked with the Committee in preparing a preliminary draft of what became the Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act.  See Pub. L. No 112-63, 125 Stat. 762 (December 7, 2011). Congress adopted the statute, a “collection of fixes to address problems that had arisen in the administration of jurisdictional law,” Pfander said.

Pfander feels his involvement with the Committee is a perfect complement to his work at the Law School.

“My scholarly work focuses on issues of federal jurisdiction and civil procedure, so the kinds of questions that arise in connection with my work as a consultant are central to my work as a law professor,” Pfander said. “I’m often able to draw on my consultant work when I talk to students in class, and I hope to give them the benefit of an insider’s understanding in the classes I teach.”

Resolution in Recognition of Professor James E. Pfander, Consultant to the Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction

The members of the Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the United States wish to express their deep appreciation and admiration to Professor James E. Pfander for his extraordinary service to the Committee as its consultant since 1998.

Jim Pfander has guided the Committee through the consideration of many important, complex, and sometimes controversial issues. Habeas corpus reform, class action legislation, immigration reform, and last but not least, the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements, are among the many issues where his wisdom and judgment have been instrumental in facilitating thorough, thoughtful, and appropriate responses by the Federal Judiciary.

Jim was also instrumental in guiding the Committee through the development, consideration, and eventual enactment by Congress of the Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act, which was signed into law on December 7, 2011, as Public L. No. 112-63.

Throughout his service to the Committee, Jim has been a valued source for reliable, in-depth analysis of legal issues. He has honored his commitment to scholarly neutrality while facilitating discussion among judges with differing points of view. He has a unique ability to take difficult and complex jurisdictional issues and explain them in a way that even judges can comprehend.

It is clear that Jim has a deep and abiding respect for the federal and state judicial systems and their judges. During his tenure, he has made significant and enduring contributions that have earned him the esteem and affection of all members of the Committee and its staff.

Jim also has a quest for learning–and sharing what he has learned–with students, academics, and judicial communities. We have often been the beneficiaries of that great wealth of knowledge and for that we are grateful.

Jim is also a person of integrity, warmth, and humility. This Committee owes him a great debt for his service, his professionalism, and his collegiality. Jim, we appreciate your service to the Committee over the past 16 years and hope that you will continue your service for many years to come.

For these reasons and many others, we, the Judicial Conference Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction, adopt this Resolution in recognition of Professor James E. Pfander’s outstanding service.

This the 23rd day of June 2014

The Members of the Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction
Honorable Richard W. Story
Honorable James K. Bredar
Honorable Richard R. Clifton
Honorable Tom R. Cornish
Honorable Jim Hannah
Honorable Harris L Hartz
Honorable Michael G. Heavican
Honorable Timothy Hillman
Honorable Dora L. Irizarry
Honorable Kent A. Jordan
Honorable Chase T. Rogers
Honorable Leigh Ingalls Saufley
Honorable Joel Schneider
Honorable Leslie H. Southwick