Judicial junkies, here are two quick items about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit:
1. New Novel. The eagerly anticipated Chambermaid — a
roman a clef novel set in the Third Circuit by Saira Rao, a former law clerk to the totally terrifying Judge Dolores Sloviter (3d Cir.) — is now in bookstores. It has arrived a few weeks ahead of its original publication date of July 10. Our earlier discussion appears here.
A very interesting interview with Saira Rao, followed by
a comments clusterf**k lively reader discussion, appears at the WSJ Law Blog.
We recently read Chambermaid, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We’ll probably review it in the near future, either here at ATL or for a print publication.
(Shameless plug: If you’re an editor in need of a book review, please email us.)
Law Blog Q&A: Saira Rao [WSJ Law Blog]
Chambermaid by Saira Rao [official website]
Earlier: A ‘Devil Wears Prada’ for the Law Clerk Set
2. New Nominee. After Judge Noel Hillman (D.N.J.) was mysteriously pulled as the presumptive nominee for Justice Samuel Alito’s former Third Circuit seat, we wondered: What’s up with that Third Circuit seat?
Now we know (or think we do). According to media reports, the likely new nominee is Shalom Stone (at right). Here’s a brief bio:
Stone, a former chairman of a state bar committee on federal practice and procedure who handles a wide swath of issues, including insurance, RICO, real estate and ethics, has been practicing for 20 years. He’s now a partner at the Roseland firm of Walder Hayden and Brogan.
More discussion, after the jump.
Shalom Stone’s selection came as a surprise to some Third Circuit watchers. He’s not extremely well-known within New Jersey legal circles. He also doesn’t have any prior government service on his resume.
But that may be a good thing. Rumor has it that the Noel Hillman nomination was pulled because the White House feared that his confirmation hearings would be used as a grandstanding opportunity for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Hillman, you may recall, served as Chief of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. Hearings on his elevation would have allowed the Dems to ask him about how specific corruption cases were handled, why some cases weren’t pursued more vigorously, and why certain cases were never brought.
Hillman would have had to respond to such questions by saying he couldn’t go into the substance of such discussions. Chuck Schumer et al. would have triumphantly seized upon such responses to imply that Hillman, the DOJ, and the Bush Administration have something to hide. Even if Hillman did nothing wrong during his time at Main Justice — and there’s no evidence that he did — his hearings could (and probably would) have turned into a political and media circus.
Shalom Stone, in contrast, doesn’t have such baggage. His background in private practice makes it less likely that he’s been involved in any matters the Democrats could turn to their political advantage. He’s also known as a very nice and genial fellow.
Stone is said to be fairly conservative (and rumored to be a member of the Federalist Society). But he may be able to muster support from the other side of the aisle. He’s a partner at Walder Hayden & Brogan, and name partner Joe Hayden carries a lot of influence in New Jersey Democratic circles. If Hayden goes to bat for his partner, it’s likely that the Garden State’s Democratic senators will fall into line behind the nominee.
Despite this apparent lack of skeletons in the closet, one reader isn’t optimistic about the chances of confirmation. It’s not about Stone, just about timing:
What chance is there of getting Alito’s seat filled during the Bush Administration? First you need the background check on the prospective nominee, then after the nomination you need the Committee Hearing, then the Committee Vote, then the full Senate’s vote. All that takes a substantial amount of time and Leahy has said no circuit court nominees will be confirmed in ’08. So, unless the Administration is very close to settling on a new nominee, or has already started the background check on one, I’m very skeptical that any nominee will ever see a signed Commission.
Update: Word on the street is that Shalom Stone’s background check is well underway. But the point remains that getting him confirmed before 2008 is far from guaranteed.
Roseland Attorney Now Favorite for Alito’s Former Seat [New Jersey Lawyer]
The Auditor [Newark Star-Ledger via NJ.com]
Shalom D. Stone bio [Walder Hayden & Brogan, P.A.]
Earlier: What’s Up With That Third Circuit Seat?