The Senate yesterday confirmed Beverly Reid O'Connell to the district court for the Central District of California by a 92-0 vote. O’Connell is a graduate of U.C.L.A. and received her J.D. magna cum laude from Pepperdine Univ. School of Law in 1990. She was an associate with Morrison & Foerster in Los Angeles for five years following law school. From 1995 to 2005 O’Connell was with the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Central District of California where she served as Deputy Chief of Major Crimes for four years and Senior Litigation Counsel of the Organized Crime Strike Force from 2003 to 2005. From 2005 until 2013, O’Connell served as a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles.
At the end of President Obama’s first term, there were 77 vacancies on the federal bench, or almost 9 percent of total judgeships, with 33 nominations pending. The average time it took for a candidate for appellate or trial court to go from nomination to confirmation during Obama’s first term was more than seven months, over 2 months longer than President George W. Bush’s and more than double President Clinton’s. Total judicial vacancies increased by 51 percent in the last 4 years; there were 55 when Obama took office.
The lame duck Senate confirmed 13 district court judges in December, but Obama’s total confirmation rate was only 75 percent, compared to 88 percent for President George W. Bush four years into his presidency and 83 percent for President Clinton. Over 95 percent of Bush’s nominees were eventually confirmed. Some liberal critics of the President’s nomination process agree that by one measure, he has met expectations. During his first term, Obama named to the bench a higher share of women (44 percent) and a higher share of minorities (37 percent) than any president before him.
The Judicial Conference of the United States has agreed to close six non-resident federal court facilities, leading to savings of about $1 million a year in an on-going cost-cutting effort. Each facility contains a courtroom, but has no full-time resident federal judge. The following is a list of those facilities affected:
- Wilkesboro, North Carolina, (upon completion of the renovation of the courthouse in Statesville, North Carolina);
- Beaufort, South Carolina, (at the end of the lease term in 2014);
- Meridian, Mississippi;
- Amarillo, Texas, (upon the cancellation of the lease for the bankruptcy court space);
- Pikeville, Kentucky, (releasing the bankruptcy courtroom and chamber in leased space); and
- Gadsden, Alabama.
Hon. Mark Kravitz of the District of Connecticut died Monday after a battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. Kravitz, appointed in 2003 by President George W. Bush, was 62. Prior to taking the bench, he clerked for Justice William H. Rehnquist and was a partner with Wiggin & Dana in New Haven, Ct.
Lawyers who were interviewed for the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary said of Kravitz: "His legal ability is superb, incomparable, the best we've got." "He is the smartest guy I have ever seen on any bench anywhere." "He is brilliant. He is second to none. He is the quintessential judge." "He is very courteous and has a sense of humor. I can't think of anything negative to say." "He has no leanings. He has a true desire to see quality cases proceed and bad ones go away."
The Senate yesterday voted 89 to 1 to confirm Stephanie M. Rose to the district court for the Southern District of Iowa. Rose graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1996 and joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in Des Moines. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1996 to 2008, Deputy Criminal Chief from 2008 to 2009, and currently serves as U.S. Attorney. During her tenure at the U.S. Attorney’s office, Rose investigated and prosecuted more than 800 federal cases. Rose received a “unanimously well qualified” rating from the A.B.A. She is the first woman to serve as district judge in the Southern District of Iowa.
The Senate confirmed Michael Shipp to the federal district court in New Jersey. Shipp is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law was an associate with Skadden Arps from 1995 to 2003. He was with the Attorney General’s office for 4 years, first as assistant attorney general in-charge of consumer protection and later as counsel to the Attorney General. In 2007 he was appointed a U.S. Magistrate Judge. Prior to becoming a Magistrate Judge, virtually all of Shipp’s practice was civil litigation.
The Supreme Court has upheld the bulk of the Obama administration’s health care law, including the individual mandat. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the 5-4 opinion, joining the court’s liberal block.
The Senate yesterday confirmed Paul J. Watford to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Watford is a 1994 graduate of U.C.L.A. School of Law. Prior to taking the bench, he was a partner with Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where his practice focused mainly on appellate litigation. From 1997 to 2000, Watford was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Central District of California. He clerked for Hon. Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit, and for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed Jacqueline H. Nguyen to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Nguyen was a District Judge for the Central District of California since 2009 and sat on the Superior Court of California from 2002 to 2009. Prior to taking the bench, Nguyen was with the U.S. Attorneys office for 7 years and in private practice from 1991 to 1994.