Eric Komitee – Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Eric Komitee who recently left a very lucrative position as General Counsel,[1]  is Trump’s newest nominee to the Brooklyn based Eastern District.

Background

Eric Ross Komitee was born in Freeport, New York on December 21, 1970.  Komitee received a B.A. with High Honors from Emory University in 1992 and a J.D. cum laude from New York University School of Law in 1995.[2]  Komitee then clerked for Judge J.L. Edmondson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.[3]

After his clerkship, Komitee joined the New York office of Cravath Swaine & Moore as an Associate.[4]  In 1998, he moved to Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.  In 2000, he shifted again, joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York as a federal prosecutor.[5]

In 2008, Komitee left the U.S. Attorney’s Office to join Viking Global Investors LP, a New York based hedge fund, as General Counsel.[6]  Komitee left the fund in June 2018.

History of the Seat

Komitee has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  This seat opened on February 28, 2017, when Judge Eric Vitaliano moved to senior status.  In early February 2017, Komitee submitted a resume to the White House for the vacancy.[7]

In July 2017, Komitee’s name was broached by the White House as part of a package of nominees to New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.[8]  Komitee interviewed with Schumer in November 2017, and was officially nominated on May 15, 2018.

Legal Experience

Komitee started his legal career in the New York offices of big firms Cravath and Skadden.  At Cravath, Komitee focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions and other forms of corporate law, while at Skadden, Komitee focused largely on representing corporations in criminal and SEC investigations.[9]  Additionally, at Skadden, Komitee sued a local sheet metal union to secure back pay for workers suffering from racial discrimination.[10]

From 2000 to 2008, Komitee worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, focusing on prosecuting white collar and corporate crime.[11]  Komitee has also prosecuted a number of organized crime cases, including fighting scams linked to the Gambino crime family.[12]  Komitee also prosecuted the largest consumer fraud case ever brought by the Federal Trade Commission (as of 2006), related to a widespread telecommunications fraud.[13]

From 2008 to 2018, Komitee worked as General Counsel to Viking Global Investors LP, focusing on transactional and compliance work.  Komitee also handled contract and employment related matters for the hedge fund.

Political Activity

Komitee has a relatively limited political history, having made five donations over the past few years, all to Republicans.[14]  The recipients of Komitee’s donations are Rep. Trey Gowdy, former Sen. Scott Brown, Gov. Mitt Romney (during his 2012 Presidential campaign), Sen. Marco Rubio, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.[15]

Writings

As a law student, Komitee authored an article discussing the influence of dismissed charges on sentencing under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.[16]  In the article, Komitee argues that judges should not be permitted to depart upwards in a defendant’s sentence based on charges ultimately dismissed as a part of plea bargains.[17]  Komitee notes that allowing such upward departures would remove the incentive for defendants to plea-bargain and as such, “would have grave consequences for the ability of the criminal justice system to process cases and reach equitable results.”[18]

Overall Assessment

As he has already been pre-approved by Schumer and Gillibrand, it is unlikely that Komitee will face too much trouble through the confirmation process.  His record is fairly noncontroversial, and he has not written or spoken on any controversial issues.  As such, it is more a question of when, rather than if, Komitee will be confirmed.


[1] See C. Ryan Barber, Eric Komitee, Trump Pick for NY Court, Made Millions as Hedge Fund GC, Corporate Counsel, July 11, 2018, https://www.law.com/corpcounsel/2018/07/11/eric-komitee-trump-pick-for-ny-court-made-millions-as-hedge-fund-gc//.

[2] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong., Eric R. Komitee: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[3] See id. at 2.

[4] See id.

[5] Id.

[6] See Barber, supra n. 1

[7] See Komitee, supra n. 2 at 28.

[8] Zoe Tillman, The White House Has Pitched a Nominee for Manhattan’s Powerful US Attorney Opening, Buzzfeed News, Aug. 7, 2017, https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetillman/the-white-house-has-pitched-a-nominee-for-manhattans.  

[9] See Komitee, supra n. 2 at 16.

[10] EEOC v. Local 638, 117 F. Supp. 2d 386 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).

[11] See Komitee, supra n. 2 at 15.

[12] See Greg B. Smith, Mob Dials for Dough Say Millions Swindled Using Tiny Midwest Firm, N.Y. Daily News, Sept. 19, 2004.  

[13] United States v. LoCascio, No. 1:03-cr-00304-CBA (E.D.N.Y.), aff’d, 185 F. App’x 88 (2d Cir. 2006).

[15] See id.

[16] See Eric R. Komitee, Bargains Without Benefits: Do the Sentencing Guidelines Permit Upward Depatures to Redress the Dismissal of Charges Pursuant to Plea Bargains?, 70 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 166 (April 1995).

[17] Id. at 194-95.

[18] See id. at 195.

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