Judge Morris Arnold of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit will take over as the presiding judge of a secret federal appeals court in Washington this week, a court official said today.
Arnold, appointed to the Eighth Circuit in 1992, will serve as the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review until the remainder of his term, which expires in May 2015. Arnold replaces Judge Bruce Selya of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, whose term on the surveillance appeals court ends Friday.
The three-judge Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review hears government appeals from the lower Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The surveillance court, based in the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse in Washington, examines national security wiretap applications from the government. The lower court’s proceedings, like the appeals court, are secret. Public rulings are rarely issued.
The Federal Judicial Center said the surveillance appeals court, established in 1978, did not meet for the first time until 2002 because of the U.S. Justice Department's "almost perfect record" of obtaining surveillance warrants and other powers from the lower surveillance court.
As of today, there’s no word yet on who will fill Selya’s vacancy on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court makes appointment to the appeals court.
In November, Judge William Bryson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was appointed to a slot on the surveillance appeals court, replacing Judge Ralph Winter Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Winter has served on the Second Circuit since 1981.