WASHINGTON – The Senate Tuesday evening confirmed by voice vote three Texans that President Barack Obama has tapped to serve as federal district judges — including Amos Mazzant III of Sherman.

WASHINGTON – The Senate Tuesday evening confirmed by voice vote three Texans that President Barack Obama has tapped to serve as federal district judges — including Amos Mazzant III of Sherman.


Mazzant has been nominated to serve as a federal district judge in the Eastern District of Texas and, if confirmed, would sit in the Sherman Federal Courthouse formerly used by Judge Paul Brown, who retired in November 2006. The Courthouse was named the Paul Brown Federal Courthouse earlier this year in Brown’s honor.


Robert William Schroeder III has also been nominated to be a federal district judge in the Eastern District of Texas. And, Robert Lee Pitman has been nominated to be a federal district judge in the Western District of Texas.


"Confirming the three judges to fill judicial emergency vacancies in Texas is a tip of the iceberg," said Glenn Sugameli, a senior attorney with Defenders of Wildlife, who has been tracking judicial nominations for more than a decade.


Sugameli said that there has been an outcry from Texas federal judges, the U.S Courts, the American Bar Association and others stressing the need to nominate and confirm judges to reduce severe Texas judicial backlogs, caseloads, and a "vacancy crisis."


The district court judges in the Eastern District of Texas, six regular and one senior, had the highest workloads in the country, with an average of 1,510 weighted incoming civil and criminal matters per judge in the year preceding June 30, 2014, the most recent date for which records are available, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.


The largely rural Texas East district was the top venue for patent cases, with 2,804 filings in 2013 and 2014. Patent cases are considered complex and often require lengthy litigation but rules have been developed in Texas East to help move patent cases toward resolution faster, according to TRAC.


University of Richmond Law School professor Carl Tobias said the three confirmed judges would help alleviate a shortage in Eastern and Western Texas.


"These appointments are critical," Tobias said. "The Eastern District and Western District have far too many cases and far too few judges. There still are six District and two Fifth Circuit vacancies even after the three appointments."


Mazzant, a Pennsylvania native, has made Texas his home since receiving his law degree from Baylor University Law School in 1990. He served more than a decade as a law clerk in the Sherman courthouse, including two years with Judge Brown. Since 2009, he has served in Sherman as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.


The Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas serves people in Cooke, Denton, Grayson, Collin, Fannin, Lamar, Delta and Hopkins counties.


Mazzant said at his confirmation hearing in September that he had a "great role model" in Judge Brown and planned to follow his example — as he has tried to do throughout his career as a judge — treating everyone with "respect and fairness."


Earlier Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Sarah Saldana to serve as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security. Saldana, a native of Corpus Christi, has served since September 2011 as a U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.