Tommy Parker – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee

Thomas Lee Robinson Parker, professionally known as “Tommy”, is a prominent Memphis attorney, having served as the president of the Memphis Bar Association.  With a varied legal background including substantive litigation experience, Parker should face little trouble being confirmed quickly.

Background

Tommy Parker received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Carolina in 1985 and went onto earn his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1989.  After graduating, Parker joined the Memphis law firm, Waring Cox PLC. as an associate, working in Tennessee state and federal court litigation.

In 1996, Parker was hired by U.S. Attorney Veronica F. Coleman to serve as a federal prosecutor.  As an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Parker handled both trial and appellate criminal matters, including drug and white collar cases.

In 2005, Parker left the U.S. Attorney’s office to join the Memphis office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C. as a Shareholder.[1]  Parker currently serves in the same capacity.

History of the Seat

Parker has been nominated to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.  This seat opened on July 1, 2015, when Judge Samuel Mays moved to senior status.  Approximately six weeks before Mays moved to senior status, President Obama nominated Edward Stanton, the then-U.S. Attorney in the district, to fill the judgeship.[2]  Stanton, who had the strong support of Republican Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker,[3] received a hearing on September 30, 2015, with the Committee unanimously approving his nomination on October 29.  However, despite there being no objections to his nomination, Stanton was blocked from a floor vote by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,[4] ultimately being returned unconfirmed at the end of the 114th Congress.

President Trump declined to renominate Stanton for the seat, instead nominating Parker on July 13, 2017.

Legal Experience

Parker began his legal career as a litigation associate at Waring Cox, PLC., representing corporations in tort claims.  Early in his career, Parker was part of the legal team defending a fire equipment company and its salesman against tort claims brought by a fireman injured by the equipment.[5]  Parker also defended stair manufacturers against claims by a worker injured by falling off their equipment, unsuccessfully arguing before the Tennessee Supreme Court that his clients should be able to plead the contributory negligence of the plaintiff’s employer as an affirmative defense.[6]

In 1996, Parker became a federal prosecutor.  In this capacity, Parker represented the federal government in criminal proceedings, including responding to motions to suppress,[7] and defending government intent to seek the death penalty.[8]  Parker also had the opportunity to represent the government in appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.[9]  For example, Parker successfully argued that cops did not exceed the scope of a traffic scope in searching a vehicle.[10]

In 2005, Parker left prosecution to flip to the other side, working as a criminal defense attorney in white collar criminal cases.  Parker also represented corporations in defending against government investigations,[11] and RICO claims.[12]  Parker has also taken on some cases representing plaintiffs.  For example, in one case, Parker represented the heirs of a decedent beaten to death by the Memphis police.[13]

Political Activity

Parker has been active in the local Republican Party, serving on the Steering Committee of the Republican Party of Shelby County from 2009-2014, and serving as the Party’s counsel during the 2016 election.  Parker has also been a generous donor to Tennessee Republicans, donating $2000 to Alexander, $1750 to Corker, and $1800 to Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN).[14]  Parker has also contributed to national Republicans, giving to the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and John Kasich, as well as to the Republican National Committee.[15]

Overall Assessment

There is no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to judicial nominations.  After all, in a universe where well-credentialed, moderate nominees were swiftly approved, this vacancy would have been filled two years ago with the confirmation of Edward Stanton.  Nevertheless, Parker’s strong legal experience, connections in the Memphis legal community, and mainstream politics makes him a likely candidate for the federal bench.

With his confirmation, Tennessee litigants can expect the addition of another moderate-conservative to the Western District bench.


[1] The Bulletin Board, Department: News About TBA Members, 41 Tenn. B.J. 10, 11 (February 2005).

[2] Press Release, White House, President Obama Nominates Edward L. Stanton III to Serve on the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee (May 21, 2015) (on file at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov).  

[3] The Leadership Conference, These Republican Senators Want Their Judicial Nominees Confirmed. Majority Leader McConnell Isn’t Listening, Medium, Aug. 4, 2016, https://medium.com/@civilrightsorg/these-republican-senators-want-their-judicial-nominees-confirmed-1d87e6bfc615.

[4] The Leadership Conference, Mitch McConnell Tried Skipping Over the Two Longest-Waiting Judicial Nominees. They’re Both Black Men, Medium, Sept. 9, 2016, https://medium.com/@civilrightsorg/mitch-mcconnell-tried-skipping-over-the-two-longest-waiting-judicial-nominees-208b6f7cdbb.  

[5] See Richmond v. Adelman, 1991 Tenn. App. LEXIS 572 (Tenn. App. July 24, 1991).

[6] Ridings v. The Ralph Parsons Co. et al., 914 S.W.2d 79 (Tenn. 1996).

[7] See, e.g., United States v. Ramirez, 115 F. Supp. 2d 918 (W.D. Tenn. 2000) (denying motion to suppress based on warrantless search of vehicle).  

[8] See, e.g., United States v. Haynes, 269 F. Supp. 2d 970 (W.D. Tenn. 2003) (denying motion to strike gov’t notice of intent to seek death penalty).

[9] See United States v. Brown, 276 F.3d 211 (6th Cir. 2002); United States v. Saucedo, 226 F.3d 782 (6th Cir. 2000); United States v. Wellman, 185 F.3d 651 (6th Cir. 1999); United States v. Gibson, 135 F.3d 1124 (6th Cir. 1998); United States v. Weaver, 126 F.3d 789 (6th Cir. 1997); United States v. Comer, 93 F.3d 1271 (6th Cir. 1996).

[10] See United States v. Villanueva, 89 Fed. Appx. 584 (6th Cir. 2004).

[11] See, e.g., United States v. UT Medical Group, Inc. et al., 2010 WL 11493930 (W.D. Tenn. Jan. 27, 2010).

[12] See, e.g., Duvall v. Ecoquest Intern., Inc., 2007 WL 2811052 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 24, 2007).

[13] Buckley v. City of Memphis, 2005 WL 6737964 (W.D. Tenn. Feb. 9, 2005).

[15] See id.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on the Sept. 6th Judiciary Committee Hearing | The Vetting Room

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s