President Obama recently formally named several Texas lawyers as nominees for various judgeships in three of Texas' four districts. One was former Texas state court judge (and longtime Litigation Section colleague) Karen Gren Scholer for a vacant judgeship in Plano, which is within the Sherman Division of the Eastern District.
A recent article by Ryan Davis of Law360 provides a good background on Karen, and the effect that her addition to the Eastern District bench would have both on the Plano docket and the patent docket. It also provides some analysis into the Plano docket in comparison to the dockets of the other Eastern District divisions.
The Eastern District has eight authorized judgeships, and three are currently vacant (Plano, Tyler and Tyler). Of more interest with respect to the patent docket, the majority of that docket is normally shared by four district judges, typically those located in Marshall, Texarkana and the two located in Tyler (the Sherman Division has far more criminal cases, and a more varied civil docket). As noted above, both of the Tyler positions are vacant, and the judge located in Texarkana (Judge Schroeder) is currently assisting with the Plano criminal docket, in addition to his dockets in Texarkana, Marshall and Tyler. As a result, a disproportionate share of the docket in the district's eastern divisions is falling to the remaining judge, Judge Gilstrap of Marshall, who handles most of Marshall, part of Texarkana, and a substantial part of Tyler patent docket.
Filling the Plano seat (and eventually the Tyler positions) would result in a reallocation of the docket among the district's judges, as the article notes.