Clinton Appointee Robert Henry will take the reins as the chief judge of the Denver based United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on January 1, 2008.Like all federal judges, Henry has a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. During his seven year term as chief judge, he will have considerable administrative powers. For example, he will have a large say in the process of writing local court rules, appointing court staff including magistrate judges, and implementing court security measures.
The chief judge does not have significant additional power to decide how particular cases are decided, however.
In the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, cases are assigned to three appellate judge panels randomly.
All judges in the 10th Circuit hear cases decided by a three judge panel which are then reviewed en banc by the entire 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. But the chief judge does have the power to decide which judge writes a rare opinion in an en banc review of a panel’s decision when he joins a majority opinion.
The United States Courts of Appeals are second only to the U.S. Supreme Court in the federal court system.
The other twelve chief judges of U.S. Courts of Appeals in the United States are Republican appointees.