Holly Lou Teeter – Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Judiciary has been evaluating judicial candidates since 1953, as a way of providing an independent view of their qualifications.  As a part of their criteria, the Committee sets a baseline of “at least twelve years’ experience in the practice of law.”[1]  Holly Lou Teeter, the federal prosecutor tapped by President Trump for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, falls narrowly short of that mark, with only eleven years of legal practice.


Teeter was born Holly Lou Hydeman in Kansas City, KS in 1979.  In 1996, Teeter began taking classes at Johnson County Community College (which she would do for the next four years).  In 1998, Teeter matriculated at the University of Kansas, graduating with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2002.  Upon graduation, Teeter attended the University of Oxford for a year-long diploma program, receiving a Diploma in Legal Studies in 2003.

Teeter returned to Kansas to attend the University of Kansas School of Law, graduating first in her class in 2006.  Upon graduation, Teeter took a non-litigation patent law clerk position at Los Alamos National Security LLC., the corporation that operates the Los Alamos National Laboratory for the Department of Energy.  In 2007, Teeter joined the Kansas City office of Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLC., working in intellectual property litigation.

In 2011, Teeter was hired to be a Law Clerk for Judge Carlos Murguia in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.  In 2013, Teeter was then hired by Judge Brian Wimes of the U.S. District Court for the Western and Eastern Districts of Missouri to serve as his law clerk.

In 2016, Teeter was hired by U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) in the Civil Division of the Western District of Missouri.  Teeter currently serves in that capacity.

History of the Seat

The seat Teeter has been nominated for opened on April 22, 2014, with Judge Kathryn Vratil’s move to senior status.  On January 28, 2016, President Obama nominated Terrence Campbell, an attorney in private practice, and a Republican, to fill the vacancy.[2]  Despite Campbell having the support of Republican Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran,[3] he nonetheless never received a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  On December 7, 2016, Campbell withdrew his nomination.[4]

In January 2017, Teeter discussed her interest in a federal judgeship with Roberts.  After interviews with Roberts and Moran, Teeter’s name was submitted to the White House.  Teeter interviewed with the White House Counsel’s Office and the Department of Justice on April 27, 2017.  She was officially nominated on August 3, 2017.

Legal Experience

As Teeter did not engage in litigation as a patent law clerk, and as her clerkship experience is largely shielded from public view, Teeter’s record in court spans only five years, with a four year window in private practice, and a year as an AUSA.

Teeter’s time at Shook, Hardy & Bacon was focused on intellectual property litigation.  Among her more significant matters, Teeter successfully represented Cerner Corporation in seeking a declaratory judgment that its monitoring system for intensive care unit patients did not infringe on any patents.[5]  Teeter also defended a group of hospitals against an infringement suit based on a patent for portable processing means.[6]

As an AUSA, Teeter works in the Civil Division, defending the United States against civil claims.  In one case, Teeter successfully defended the government against charges that it should be held liable for the plaintiff’s false arrest, imprisonment, and assault by the United States Marshalls.[7]

Overall Assessment

As noted above, Teeter falls narrowly short of the experiential requirements laid out by the ABA.  However, while this may affect the ABA rating Teeter receives, it is unlikely to jeopardize her confirmation.  While skeptics may question Teeter’s youth and inexperience, she is not the youngest nominee put forward by the Trump Administration.  Furthermore,  Teeter’s supporters will note Teeter’s stellar academic credentials, and her substantive experience clerking on the federal bench for five years.  Additionally, the fact that Teeter has clerked only for judges nominated by Democratic presidents may reassure senators of her overall moderation.  As such, with Roberts and Moran strongly in her corner, it is unlikely that Teeter will face many problems through the process.

[1] American Bar Association, Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary: What It Is, and How It Works, (2009), https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/scfedjud/federal_judiciary09.authcheckdam.pdf.

[2] Press Release, White House, President Obama Nominates Terrence J. Campbell to Serve on the United States District Court (Jan. 28, 2016) (on file at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov).  

[3] Associated Press, President Obama Nominates Lawrence Attorney Terrence Campbell to Federal Bench, Lawrence Journal-World, Jan. 29, 2016, http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2016/jan/29/president-obama-nominates-lawrence-attorney-federa/.  

[4] Peter Hancock, Lawrence Attorney Withdraws as Nominee for Federal Judgeship, Lawrence Journal-World, Dec. 7, 2016, http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2016/dec/07/lawrence-attorney-withdraws-nominee-federal-judges/.

[5] See Cerner Corp. v. Visicu, Inc., 667 F. Supp. 2d 1062 (W.D. Mo. 2009).

[6] Brown v. Baylor Health Care Systems, 662 F. Supp. 2d 669 (S.D. Tex. 2009).

[7] See Wright v. United States, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75724 (W.D. Mo. 2017) (Judge Hays).


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