Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Judicial Nominations' Category

Law Professor Confirmed for Federal Appeals Bench

On a 50-43 vote, the Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Pamela Harris, a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to The Hill newspaper, Republican Sen. Charles W. Grassley of Iowa opposed the nomination and said Harris’s pre-nomination record was full of “left-wing philosophy.” Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., defended the nomination while praising Harris’s qualifications and describing her as an “extraordinarily talented person.”

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Commentary: Florida Governor Threatens Judicial Independence

043008_Sandra-O_Connor_200110317012600_rick-scottRetired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has criticized “persistent efforts in some states to politicize the bench and the role of our judges.” Florida Gov. Rick Scott would do well to listen to her, a commentator writes.

At SaintPetersBlog, retired St. Petersburg Times associate editor Martin Dyckman says the independence of 26 judicial nominating commissions in Florida has “vanished under Scott,” who on 19 occasions has rejected lists of names for the panels recommended to him by the Florida Bar.

Florida’s governor appoints all nine members of each screening commission, including four members from lists recommended by the Bar.

By contrast, Dyckman notes that the  “O’Connor Judicial Selection Plan,” recently issued by the Denver-based Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (see Gavel Grab), takes a different tack. IAALS is a JAS partner organization. Read more

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Senate Confirms Four Federal Court Judges

The Senate confirmed three federal district court judges on Wednesday.

Attorney John deGravelles was confirmed to serve as a judge for Louisiana’s Middle District, according to KATC; Palm Beach County (Florida) Circuit Judge Robin Rosenberg was confirmed for the Southern District of Florida, according to the Palm Beach Post; and Andre Birotte Jr., U.S. attorney for the Central District of California, was confirmed for the court in that district, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Earlier this week, the Senate confirmed District Judge Judge Julie Carnes of Georgia for the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

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Report: U.S. Judicial Vacancies Mean ‘No Winners, Only Losers’

why-the-judicial-vacancy-crisis-should-matterIt’s all too frequent for the U.S. news media to portray the important work of confirming judicial nominees as an epic political battle featuring winners and losers. But there are “No Winners, Only Losers, When it Comes to Judicial Vacancies,” Andrew Cohen writes in discussing a new report.

Cohen is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. His article sums up a report written by the Brennan Center’s Alicia Bannon, entitled “The Impact of Judicial Vacancies on Federal Trial Courts.” Here’s a summary of the report:

“In this study, the Brennan Center interviewed more than 20 chief judges, court administrators, and practitioners from 10 districts which either currently or recently had judicial vacancies to get a firsthand account of how vacancies impact our trial courts. These judges reported that vacancies slowed the court’s ability to resolve motions and try cases, which drove up litigation costs, caused evidence to go stale, made it harder to settle civil cases, and in some instances, pressured clients to plead guilty. They also said vacancies created heavier caseloads, which meant judges had less time to spend on cases, and resulted in fewer administrative staff, which left courts unable to effectively manage dockets. Although some districts are able to compensate for empty seats, their stopgap solutions do not fix the problem and only underscore the need to fill those seats.” Read more

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Commentary: Avoid Further Secrecy on Judicial Applicants’ Names

It’s good for the public to have the names of applicants for the Kansas Supreme Court, a Wichita Eagle editorial page blog says. The writer, Rhonda Holman, says this transparency would be endangered if legislators change the state constitution to dump the current merit selection process for picking justices.

For a new vacancy on the high court, 14 people have applied for consideration by a judicial nominating commission, and they include four members of the state Court of Appeals. Holman notes that this kind of transparency was not in effect when Gov. Sam Brownback appointed a new judge to the Court of Appeals last year; the legislature had changed, by passing a new law, the process for selection of Court of Appeals judges (see Gavel Grab). Read more

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One Pick for U.S. Bench in Georgia Stalled, Another Advances

A nominee for a U.S. appeals court seat in Georgia appears headed for a Senate up-or-down vote next week, as another court nominee chosen in the same package deal between the White House and Georgia’s Republican senators is in limbo.

That news comes from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying U.S. District Court Judge Julie Carnes’s nomination for the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals likely will be voted on by the Senate soon, after clearing a procedural vote on Thursday. But the troubled nomination (see Gavel Grab) of state Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs for the U.S. district court in Georgia continues in limbo, the newspaper said. Read more

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Senate Confirms Judge 17 Years After He First Was Nominated

RONNIE L. WHITEThe politics of judicial nominations was a front-and-center topic when the U.S. Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronnie White to a federal judgeship. White first was nominated for the post in 1997, and subsequently failed to win confirmation in a GOP-controlled Senate.

Voting largely along party lines, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed White to a district court judgeship by a 53-44 vote, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

It was for political purposes that White’s judicial record was distorted by foes more than a decade ago, said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri. In fact, at a time he was characterized as soft on law enforcement and the death penalty, he supported upholding the death penalty in almost 70 percent of the cases that came before him as a high court judge, she said.

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17 Years From His First U.S. Judicial Nomination, to Confirmation?

imrsSeventeen years after he was nominated for the federal bench by President Clinton, and his nomination was subsequently defeated, former Missouri Supreme Court Justice Ronnie White appears likely to win judicial confirmation by the Senate this week.

Last year, President Obama nominated White to serve on the federal court in Missouri’s Eastern District (see Gavel Grab). Earlier, White was the first African American to serve on Missouri’s high court; opposition to his judicial nomination by Clinton was led by then-Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri, a Republican.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed a procedural motion early this week that is likely to lead to an up-or-down vote on White’s nomination, a Washington Post blog reported. It said that in the late 1990s, “The African-American nominee was criticized by Republicans as being soft on criminals, and some of his supporters charged that his race played a part in his rejection by the Senate. The friction over the treatment of White has been simmering ever since.”

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Christie’s Record on Judges Criticized on National Stage

ap_Christie_ac_131105.jpg_16x9_992New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is coming in for a hammering from a conservative group over his judicial nominations, as Christie stumps in Iowa.

The Judicial Crisis Network is preparing to run $75,000 in digital ads that are critical of the Republican governor’s record on judicial appointments, Politico reported.  In one ad, the narrator lambastes the New Jersey Supreme Court as “one of the most activist courts in the nation,” assails its “liberal rulings” and says Christie promised to remake the court with “judges who respect the rule of law” and then “broke his promise” repeatedly.

Replied a senior adviser to Christie, Mike DuHaime, “They should get their facts straight.” He said Christie “has nominated multiple conservatives to the Supreme Court, but several have been blocked by the Democrat state senate. And this group has been noticeably absent from each and every judicial fight Governor Christie has had in New Jersey, showing up only to criticize after the fights are over.” Read more

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Lack of Diversity on Federal Bench in North Carolina Spotlighted

“North Carolina has one of the whitest and least diverse groups of federal district court judges in the country,” Sharon McCloskey writes at N.C. Policy Watch, noting that a new district court vacancy was created by an African-American judge’s taking senior status.

District Judge James Beaty Jr., the sole African-American judge who was sitting actively on the federal district court, recently took senior status. Now, the federal district court in North Carolina has nine men and two women — all of them white, McCloskey writes. The state’s population is 70 percent white, 22 percent African-American and eight percent Hispanic. Read more

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