Judicial Nominations

* This isn’t Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas, but in a way, people are still lost. [Chicago Tribune]
* Speaking of Paris, Texas, here’s some trivia for you: the brother of one of its stars’ former partners (and father of one of her children as well as Pam’s new competition on The Office) was nominated to the federal bench last week and seems well-liked by all. Wasn’t that fun? [Seattle Times]
* More lawyers needed! For real. [Legal Profession Blog]
* I’m not judging the child-rearing methods (kiddie yoga! kiddie discos! kiddie Mandarin!) of urban yuppie/hipster parents, but nothing beats old-fashioned tough love. [Mail Tribune]
* It’s the crocodiles that made her look fat. “Crocs” make only fat people look fat. [Live Science]
* The weather’s warming up, so what better time for a cook-out? [New York Sun]

Vanessa Bryant Vanessa L Bryant Judge Above the Law legal blog.jpgYesterday brought some good news for Connecticut state court judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant, nominated to the federal district court for Connecticut.
From the Hartford Courant (via How Appealing):

The influential judicial screening committee of the American Bar Association has reversed itself on the nomination of Superior Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant to the federal bench, concluding that the judge it found not qualified a year ago is now qualified.

The chairman of the association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary said Tuesday that the new evaluation is the result of a routine re-examination of Bryant’s qualifications. That was triggered when Bryant’s nomination was resubmitted in January by President Bush after Congress adjourned last year without acting on it.

So Judge Bryant’s confirmation — which was never seriously in doubt, even back when she was deemed “unqualified,” due to the political support she enjoyed on both sides of the aisle — is now just a formality.
To refresh your memory, here’s some discussion of Judge Bryant’s earlier “not qualified” rating:

In confidential interviews, [ABA investigator Doreen] Dodson wrote, judges and lawyers described Bryant as “domineering and exasperated with lawyers,” “arrogant and unreasonable,” and “contentious and short-tempered.” Some also said she seemed overwhelmed by complex issues and wrote opinions that were hard to decipher. Dodson added that such complaints appeared consistently through her years on the bench.

Vanessa Gilmore Vanessa D Gilmore Judge Above the Law Above the Law judicial diva.jpgHmm… This description calls to mind a certain other jurist named Vanessa: Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore (at right), appointed by President Clinton in 1994, and recently discussed here.
Now, we harbor a healthy skepticism of the ABA ratings process. And we do acknowledge the concerns that have been raised concerning the anonymous nature of the earlier criticisms of Judge Bryant, which hampered her ability to respond to them at her Judiciary Committee hearings.*
But here’s a question on our mind, which we’ll just toss out there for all of you to debate:

If confirmed to the federal bench, might Judge Vanessa Bryant someday end up looking like the northeastern, Republican version of Judge Vanessa Gilmore?

* Speaking of anonymous criticism of judges, yes, we know: we are delinquent with our response to Judge Alex Kozinski’s open letter. Look for it tomorrow.
Opinion Reversed: Judge Is Qualified [Hartford Courant (via How Appealing)]
Dodd, Lieberman and Blumenthal endorse federal judge nominee [Associated Press]
Vanessa Lynne Bryant bio [Office of Legal Policy]
Earlier: The Honorable Vanessa Gilmore: A Delicious Judicial Diva

Bill Burck William Burck William A Burck Above the Law.JPGHere’s some (belated) news about notable moves at the Department of Justice and the White House:
New Arrivals at the DOJ:
We enjoy breathlessly reporting on the meteoric career trajectories of attractive women. And attractive men, too.
Over at Main Justice, two handsome gents have come onboard:
* The fresh-faced Thomas Dupree, Jr., formerly a partner in the Washington office of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, has joined the Justice Department as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division.
For those of you outside the Beltway, being a DAAG is a big deal. Dupree, who is one of Washingtonian magazine’s 40 top lawyers under 40, will oversee a staff of over 200.
* William Burck (above right, accepting bedsheets from anti-Cindy Sheehan protesters in Crawford, TX) — a former Kozinski clerk and member of the Elect (OT 1999 / Kennedy), who should have been nominated as a White House hottie — is leaving 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Burck, who served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Staff Secretary, is heading over to the DOJ’s Criminal Division. We don’t know the title of his new post; if you do, please drop us a line.
This marks a return for Burck to the DOJ, since he previously served as an assistant United States attorney in the magical Southern District of New York. Being at the Criminal Division means that he’ll get to work with the fantabulous Alice Fisher — one of the few DOJ divas who could hold her own against Shanetta Cutlar.
Elizabeth Papez Elizabeth Petrela Papez Kirkland Ellis OLC Above the Law.jpg* Elizabeth Petrela Papez (at right), a blonde beauty and Kirkland & Ellis partner, is heading over to the Office of Legal Counsel (aka the Finishing School for the Elect). She will be serving as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General.
DOJ Internal Promotion:
* Papez is filling a spot that was vacated due to a promotion. DOJ wunderkind Steven Engel — like Bill Burck, a Yale Law School grad / Kozinski clerk / Kennedy clerk (OT 2001) — has been promoted to Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the OLC. Steve Engel is married to another member of the Elect: Susan Engel (OT 2001/Scalia), yet another partner at K&E.
Conservative legal circles are so incestuous, aren’t they?
White House Internal Promotion:
Actually, make that REALLY incestuous:
* Bill Burck’s shoes in the White House are being filled by Brent McIntosh (previously described in these pages as “strappingly handsome”). McIntosh is, like Burck, another Yale Law grad and former Sullivan & Cromwell associate.
McIntosh is being promoted from within. He previously served in the White House Counsel’s office. He is a former law clerk to two conservative legal heavyweights: Judges Dennis Jacobs (2d Cir.) and Laurence Silberman (D.C. Cir.).
White House Departure:
* Dabney Friedrich, who served as associate counsel to the President, will be nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, according to the Legal Times.
(Dabney Friedrich was previously featured in a photo caption contest at Underneath Their Robes. Alas, due to her lack of familiarity with the movie American Pie, the “band camp” reference had to be explained to her by others.)
Bush to Nominate Former White House Associate Counsel to D.C. Court [Legal Times]

charles stimson charles d stimson.jpg* Oh good, Cully says pro bono is ok again. [Washington Post; Washington Post (letter to the editor) via WSJ Law Blog]
* “Two things made Christopher Willever’s drunken burglary of a Tobacco Hut even worse as he crawled across the store floor — a lousy belt and his camera-loving backside.” [MSNBC]
* U.S. Attorneys’ increasing rate of attrition. [Wall Street Journal via WSJ Law Blog (departures generally); WSJ Law Blog (Kevin Ryan)]
* Tennessee is tennetaxin’ illegal drugs. [Time]
* Time for new business cards and letterhead over at Wiley Rein & Fielding [Legal Times]
* The mystery raised here has been answered. Richard Posner isn’t the only federal government official who likes to blog. [Opinion Juris]
* Gay Sullivan & Cromwell partner David Braff, to the New York Times: “I’ve been openly gay since I arrived at this firm in 1984. There’s absolutely no atmosphere of hostility toward gay people here.”
[New York Times via DealBook]
* The fight over whether Judge Stephen S. Trott’s seat on the Ninth Circuit belongs to Idaho or California has been resolved — for now. [How Appealing]

Donald Stout house Blackbery RIM NTP NPT.JPG* Over at the Justice Department, the bad-ass Shanetta Cutlar, Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division, takes no prisoners.
* Not even summer interns can escape her wrath.
* But hey, at least they get to go back to school. Full-time attorneys can escape only by leaving the Section — provided that Shanetta doesn’t get to them first.
* Speaking of job changes, meet your new White House counsel: Fred Fielding, of Wiley Rein & Fielding (who served as White House counsel under President Reagan).
* Next time you go out for pizza, leave the corporate lawyers at home.
* Pentagon official Charles Stimson doesn’t like how Guantanamo Bay detainees are getting pro bono representation from some of the country’s top law firms. Don’t they have better things to be doing with their pro bono time?
* Michael Nifong manages a Houdini-like escape from the debacle known as the Duke lacrosse team rape case.
* Celebrity law professors Noah Feldman and Jeannie Suk, whom you have just dubbed Feldsuk, have a really nice house.
* But not as nice as the $7 million mansion of patent lawyer Donald Stout (aerial view at right).
* Federal judicial nominees: Out with the old, in with the new.
* Chief Judge Michael Boudin (1st Cir.): You like him, you really like him.
* Maybe it’s because he’s such a big feeder judge. Interestingly enough, though, he has only placed one clerk so far at the Supreme Court for October Term 2007.*
(But Chief Judge Boudin feeds mostly to Justice Breyer and Justice Souter. The former isn’t finished hiring yet, and the latter hasn’t even started.)

Terrence Boyle Terry Boyle Terence Boyle Terrence W Boyle Judge.jpgHere is some late-breaking judicial nomination news:
1. An update to our prior coverage of the withdrawal of the “Radioactive Four.” As one of you points out, it seems that Judge Terrence Boyle (E.D.N.C.), nominated to the Fourth Circuit, wanted to continue fighting.
From the latest version of the AP story:

William Haynes, William G. Myers III and Michael Wallace all asked to have their appointments withdrawn, these officials said. Judge Terrence Boyle was informed of the White House’s decision, according to an ally….

Lars H. Liebeler, a Washington lawyer, said in a telephone interview that Boyle, unlike Wallace, Haynes and Myers, did not submitted a letter asking to be withdrawn but was told of the president’s intentions.

This makes some sense. Considering that Judge Boyle (above right) is (1) 61 years old and (2) already a sitting federal judge, he’s not really going anywhere — and he doesn’t have much to lose from further fighting. But the White House apparently decided that continuing to push his nomination, in a Senate controlled by the Democrats, wasn’t worth the possible loss of face (or expenditure of political capital).
2. The White House released two more slates of judicial nominees today. See here and here.
The most notable and/or controversial nominees:

(a) Judge Thomas Hardiman (W.D. Pa.), renominated to the Third Circuit, who is the subject of a tempest in a teapot (item #3);

(b) Peter Keisler (OT 1988/Kennedy), renominated to the D.C. Circuit, who isn’t problematic personally, but has a “seat issue” (for years Republicans were saying that the last seat on the D.C. Circuit is unnecessary);

(c) Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant, renominated to the District of Connecticut, who received an “unqualified” rating from the ABA; and

(d) James Rogan, renominated to the Central District of California, who once served as a floor manager in the Clinton impeachment fight, back when he was in the House of Representatives.

These nominees aren’t THAT controversial, at least compared to the Radioactive Four. We think that they ultimately can (and should) make it through the Senate Judiciary Committee, then win confirmation by the full Senate.
But the ascendant Democrats may want to flex their muscles. And one way to do so would be by delaying, or defeating, one of these nominations.
3. Here’s an AP article about Leslie Southwick, nominated to the Fifth Circuit seat formerly held by Judge Charles Pickering Sr. (the seat that Michael Wallace was up for, before he withdrew).
Southwick is a former state appellate judge in Mississippi. As Howard Bashman notes, maybe the third time will be the charm for this hard-to-fill seat.
Bush Judicial Nominees Ask to Withdraw [Associated Press]
Senators say Bush nominating Southwick for 5th Circuit [Associated Press]
Nominations Sent to the Senate for the Judiciary [White House via How Appealing]
Nominations Sent to the Senate [White House via How Appealing]
Earlier: And They Will Back Down

Tom Petty Won't Back Down.jpg“You can stand them up at the gates of hell,
And they will back down.”

A new Senate. A new White House counsel. And new hope for judicial nominees who might actually get confirmed. In our lifetimes.
The Bush Administration’s four most controversial judicial nominees, referred to in some Senate Judiciary Committee circles as “the Radioactive Ones,” are withdrawing (or have already pulled out, in the case of Michael Wallace). White House lawyers breathe sighs of relief, delighted by the prospect of saving some face.
From the AP:

In a concession to the Senate’s new Democratic majority, four of President Bush’s appeals court appointees have asked to have their nominations withdrawn, Republican officials said Tuesday.

These officials said that William Haynes, William Myers and Terrence Boyle had all decided to abandon their quest for confirmation. Another nominee, Michael Wallace, let it be known last month that he, too, had asked Bush to withdraw his nomination.

One has to wonder: Did all four willingly withdraw their names from consideration, or did they do so under some combination of pressure or pleading from the White House?
(Also, what will the ConfirmThem crew have to say about this?)
Bush Judicial Nominees Ask to Withdraw [Associated Press via How Appealing]
Breaking Judge News [NRO / The Corner]

Rachel Brand Rachel Brand Rachel Brand Above the Law.jpg* Some interesting comments about Harriet Miers getting a Fifth Circuit nomination, as well as speculation about who might replace her as White House counsel. [ConfirmThem]
(We second the suggestion of Rachel Brand (at right). Brand previously worked in the White House counsel’s office, before her appointment to head the Office of Legal Policy at the Justice Department.)
* From an Instpaundit correspondent: “I’m no law prof, but isn’t the presumption of innocence most useful before a pile of facts come out indicating that the accused are, in fact, innocent?” [Instapundit]
* Speaking of which, check out Best Defense, which “seeks to place the presumption of innocence front and center.” [Bag and Baggage]
* Jeez, he’s even more of a tool than we thought. Can someone please talk some sense into him about 2008? [Althouse]
* Backlash to the backlash against (allegedly) excessive executive pay. [Point of Law via Dealbreaker]
* Amen. With the exception of news aggregators, blogs are by their nature idiosyncratic, rather than comprehensive. So don’t get your briefs in a wad when we fail to write about your pet topic. [Volokh Conspiracy; Althouse]

Mike Wallace Michael Wallace Michael B Wallace Phelps Dunbar Fifth Circuit.JPGVia How Appealing, of course (because who else besides us and Howard Bashman is blogging right now):
1. Controversial Fifth Circuit nominee Michael Wallace (at right), a member of the Elect (Rehnquist/OT 1977) who was still rated “unqualified” by the ABA, will ask President Bush to withdraw his nomination next week.
This is a smart and gracious move by Wallace, which will allow the White House to save some face. Since Wallace couldn’t even get confirmed in the Republican-controlled 109th Congress, his chances of confirmation in the 110th Congress would have been next to nil.
Manuel Real Manuel L Real Manuel Lawrence Real Judge.jpg2. Disciplinary sanctions may be imposed upon Judge Manuel Real (C.D. Cal.), the Los Angeles federal judge accused of improperly intervening in a bankruptcy case to rescue a damsel probationer in distress (Deborah Canter, routinely described in news accounts as “a comely female”).
Ladies and gentlemen, chivalry is officially dead. What’s the point of being “a comely female” if you can’t get favorable treatment from the federal courts?
Judge Real has appealed the censure ruling of the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council to the Judicial Conference of the United States. It’s not clear when they will rule.
Judicial hopeful steps aside [Clarion-Ledger]
Michael B. Wallace bio [Phelps Dunbar]
Web error reveals censure of U.S. judge [Los Angeles Times]
Manuel L. Real bio [FJC]

Marissa Cooper Alex The OC girl girls lesbian kiss.jpgWe’re obsessed with federal judges. And we’re fascinated by lesbians (in a strange, quasi-sociological way). So of course we must weigh in on the whole Senator Sam Brownback/Judge Janet Neff controversy.
The uber-conservative Senator Brownback (R-KS), a likely standard-bearer for social conservatives in 2008, had been blocking Judge Neff’s nomination to the federal bench — currently she’s a Michigan state-court judge — because she once attended a same-sex commitment ceremony. For lesbians.
But earlier this week, Sen. Brownback announced that he would permit a vote on Janet Neff’s nomination. We see this as good news.
Call us libertine (or libertarian), but Senator Brownback’s original position was a bit much. We agree with Dan Markel’s characterization of it as “asinine” and “obtuse.” Regardless of your views on gay marriage, it seems unwarranted to hold up a judicial nomination because the nominee once went to a party. Back in 2002. For lesbians.
(And we’d add that Judge Neff is merely a District Court nominee. How much damage can she do there? If she issues an opinion holding that the U.S. Constitution guarantees lesbians the right to marry, she’ll be reversed faster than you can say “power tools.” And if Brownback is worried that she’d use her judicial authority to go around marrying Sapphists left and right, it’s too late — she’s already a state court judge.)
Here’s a little more background (and commentary):

Janet T. Neff — the judicial nominee whose nomination to the federal bench is being delayed while Sen. Sam Brownback investigates what, exactly, she did at a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony — says that she attended the event merely as a friend and did not act out of line. In a letter to Brownback that was quoted today by the AP, Neff wrote:

“The ceremony, which was entirely private, took place in Massachusetts, where I had no authority to act in any official capacity and where, in any event, the ceremony had no legal effect…”

“When Mary and her partner, Karen Adelman, asked me to participate in their commitment ceremony by delivering a homily, it was not different from being asked by my own daughters to be part of an important event in their lives.”

And we think we speak for everyone when we say: BURN HER!!!!!! SHE’S A….COMMITMENT CEREMONY ATTENDEE?!?!?!?!

It’s unclear what Brownback will do next to try and stop Neff’s nomination. However, rumor has it he is currently in his lab testing hairs that he plucked from Neff’s head to see if any of “the gay” happened to seep in through her scalp and penetrate her soul.

Even more dubious than Senator Brownback’s original position was this idea:

Mr. Brownback… said he would also no longer press a proposed solution he offered on Dec. 8 that garnered even more criticism: that he would remove his block if Judge Neff agreed to recuse herself from all cases involving same-sex unions.

In an interview with the Times, Professor Charles Fried, the prominent conservative legal scholar, explained why this proposal would be problematic. For lesbians. And the judiciary, too.
But wait — it’s not over yet. Senator Brownback will allow a vote on Janet Neff, but he wants more hearings, so he can question her further about her participation in the lesbianic rituals. (Read: grandstand for Republican primary voters.)
We’ve rambled on long enough; now it’s your turn. After all, YOU are Time’s Person of the Year.
Please help out Senator Brownback. In the comments, please suggest questions for Brownback to propose to Judge Neff if supplemental hearings take place. Thanks.
Update: Some well-expressed views on this from Captain Ed (via Instapundit).
Brownback Wants to Re-Question Nominee [Associated Press via How Appealing]
Senator Removes His Block on Federal Court Nominee [New York Times]
This time of year, however, it’s usually the free booze, Ecstasy, and mistletoe [PrawfsBlawg]
Yes, Ms. Neff, but when the women kissed — did you look at them for a period extending three seconds? [Good As You]

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