Senate Confirms Three Ex-Prosecutors as Federal Judges
By Stephanie Woodrow | December 23, 2010 1:23 pm

As part of its marathon of last minute confirmations, the Senate on Wednesday approved three former federal prosecutors to seats on federal courts. However, the Senate returned to President Barack Obama the names of 13 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department attorneys who were nominated to judgeships.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in a prepared statement said, “As the 111th Congress draws to a close, Senate Republicans have finally consented to consider half of the judicial nominations that have been pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar, some for nearly a year, awaiting a final Senate vote.”

Leahy continued, “These are all superbly qualified nominees, most were reported with bipartisan support and many unanimously.  Thirteen of these nominations on which we are not being allowed to vote are to fill judicial emergency vacancies, as determined by the nonpartisan Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.  Yet, for month after month, many of these nominations have been stalled, just languishing before the Senate as Senate Republicans refused to consent to moving forward.” He added, “It is a travesty that all of the well-qualified nominees favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee could not be confirmed before this Congress adjourns.”

The confirmed nominees are:

  • Scott M. Matheson was nominated on March 3 to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Matheson, who served as U.S. Attorney from 1993 to 1997, is currently a professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, where he was once the dean. He was also a candidate in the state’s 2004 gubernatorial election. Read more about him here. The former U.S. Attorney is the brother of Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), who opposes Obama’s health care legislation. The Weekly Standard pondered whether Matheson’s nomination was made to “buy off his brother’s vote.” Rep. Matheson’s spokeswoman, Alyson Heyrend, told Politico that the possibility was “patently ridiculous.” A White House official also told the newspaper the Weekly Standard’s hypothesis was “absurd.”
  • Mary H. Murguia was nominated on March 25 to the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Murguia, who led the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys from 1999 to 2000 and served in other capacities at the DOJ prior to that beginning in 1990, has served as a U.S. District Court judge in Arizona since 2000.
  • Beryl A. Howell was nominated on July 14 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. A member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Howell was Executive Managing Director and General Counsel of Stroz Friedberg LLC from 2003 to 2009. She previously served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary as a senior advisor to Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.). From 1987 to 1993, Howell was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she rose to the position of Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Section.

The returned nominees are:

  • Edward C. DuMont was nominated on April 14 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. DuMont, currently a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, spent time at the Department of Justice including seven years as an Assistant to the Solicitor General. He also served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General focusing on computer crime, e-commerce and privacy. DuMont has argued 18 cases before the Supreme Court.
  • Victoria F. Nourse was nominated on July 14 to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Nourse is a professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Law. She served as an assistant counsel to the Senate Committee to Investigate the Iran-Contra Affair in 1987, before joining the Justice Department on the Civil Appellate Staff. In 1990, she became Special Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, assisting then Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.) in crafting provisions of the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Arenda L. Wright Allen was nominated on Dec. 1 to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Wright Allen worked as a federal prosecutor in the Western District of Virginia from 1990 to 1991 and in the Eastern District of Virginia from 1991 to 2005. Since then she has been a supervisory assistant federal public defender in the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Sara L. Darrow was nominated on Nov. 17 to be a U.S. District judge in the Central District of Illinois. Darrow is currently an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District, where she is chief of the violent crimes section. She joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2003 after four years with the Henry County State’s Attorney’s Office in Cambridge, Ill.
  • Vincent L. Briccetti was nominated on Nov. 17 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. A partner in the law firm of Briccetti, Calhoun & Lawrence, LLP, in White Plains, N.Y., Briccetti previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District from 1985 to 1989.
  • Marina G. Marmolejo was nominated on July 28 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Marmolejo served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Texas from 1999 to 2007 before entering the private sector. She is currently a partner at the law firm of Reid Davis LLP in Austin. Read more about her here.
  • Kathleen M. Williams was nominated on July 21 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Williams, who now is the Federal Public Defender for the district, was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the district from 1984 to 1988.
  • Michael H. Simon was nominated on July 14 to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Simon, a partner at Perkins Coie LLP in the firm’s Portland office, previously served as a trial attorney at the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.
  • Diana Saldana was nominated on July 14 to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Before she became a magistrate judge, Saldaña was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the district from 2001 to 2006. Before that, she served as a trial attorney at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division from 1998 to 1999.
  • Amy B. Jackson was nominated June 17 to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Jackson is a member at the firm Trout Cacheris, PLLC, where she specializes in complex criminal and civil trials and appeals. Before joining the firm in 2000, she worked for Venable, Baetjer, Howard, and Civiletti (now Venable LLP). From 1980 to 1986, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office. During her time with the office, she was awarded the Department of Justice Special Achievement Awards for her work on murder and sexual assault cases in 1985 and 1986.
  • James E. Boasberg was nominated June 17 to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Boasberg has served on the D.C. Superior Court since 2002. Boasberg previously spent six years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. From 1991 to 1996, Boasberg worked in private practice with the San Francisco firm Keker & Van Nest LLP and later in D.C. with Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd & Evans (now Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, PLLC).
  • Max O. Cogburn, Jr. was nominated May 27 to a seat on the U.S. District Court in the Western District of North Carolina. Cogburn, who worked in the district from 1980 to 1992, served as Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney and on the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force. He also served as a U.S. magistrate judge from 1995 to 2004. Cogburn is currently a partner at the law firm of Cogburn & Brazil PA in Asheville, N.C.
  • Paul K. Holmes, III was nominated April 28 to be a U.S. district judge for the Western District of Arkansas. Holmes is of counsel at Warner, Smith & Harris PLC in Fort Smith. From 1993 to 2001, he was the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and served for two years on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, Holmes also worked at Warner, Smith & Harris.
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