John Gallagher – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

John Gallagher, the head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Allentown, is the Trump Administration’s latest nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.    

Background

John Michael Gallagher was born in Queens, NY in 1966.  He attended the Long Island University, getting his B.S. in 1989 and a J.D. from NYU Law School in 1994.[1]  While in Law School, Gallagher worked as a Police Officer in Harlem, NY.

After graduating, Gallagher worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office.[2]  He then joined the New York City Police Department as a Special Prosecutor before moving to the Philadelphia Police Department as Special Counsel to the Police Commissioner.[3] 

In 2000, Gallagher became a White House Fellow in the Clinton White House, working as Counsel for Attorneys General Janet Reno and John Ashcroft.[4]  He then became a federal prosecutor in Albuquerque, NM and Assistant Chief of Police in Miami before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.[5]  In 2014, he became Chief of the Allentown Division of the office.

History of the Seat

Gallagher has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  This seat opened on October 9, 2018, when Judge Joel Slomsky moved to senior status.  

In September 2018,  Gallagher applied for and interviewed with the Judicial Nomination Advisory Panel for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Gallagher then interviewed with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa), and the White House before being nominated.

Legal Experience

Gallagher has spent virtually his entire legal career as either a prosecutor or working for the police.  In the latter capacity, Gallagher worked with police departments on issues of training, civil rights, and public relations.  For example, Gallagher worked with the Philadelphia Police Department to develop policies against racial profiling in traffic stops.[6]  He also countered claims by activists and protesters that they suffered police abuse during the 2000 Republican National Convention.[7]

As a federal prosecutor, Gallagher has prosecuted a number of high profile cases.  For example, Gallagher prosecuted Kiboni Savage for the firebombing death of the family of an informant who was testifying against him, securing the death penalty against Savage.[8]

Overall Assessment

Given the bipartisan support he has received from his home state senators and his relatively apolitical background, Gallagher should sail to confirmation.  While he may receive some questions regarding his work with the police, such questions are unlikely to derail what would otherwise be an uncontroversial nomination.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., John M. Gallagher.: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] Id. 

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 3.

[6] See Michael Rubinkam, Lawmakers Call For Racial Breakdown on People Stopped By Police, A.P. State & Local Wire, May 27, 1999.

[7] See Bill Johnson, Little Proof of Activists’ Claims of Police Abuse, A.P. State & Local Wire, Aug. 20, 2000.

[8] See Peter Hall, Allentown Federal Prosecutor Nominated to Fill Federal Judgeship Serving Lehigh Valley, Morning Call, Aug. 28, 2019, https://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-nws-lehigh-valley-federal-judge-nomination-20190828-esm77yajyrftpaeqonoys5m45m-story.html.  

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