Matthew Schelp – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

The area in white is covered by the Eastern District

St. Louis attorney Matthew Schelp has been tapped to fill the Cape Girardeau based seat of Judge Stephen Limbaugh, who is scheduled to move to senior status next year.

Background

A native Missourian, Schelp was born in 1970 in Kansas City.  He attended the University of Missouri College of Business and then received a J.D. from the University of Missouri School of Law.[1]  He then joined the U.S. Navy as a member of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.  After brief stints at the firms of Thompson Coburn LLP and Husch Blackwell LLP in St. Louis, Schelp joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri in 2001 as a federal prosecutor.[2]

In 2010, Schelp left the U.S. Attorney’s Office to found the firm of Jensen, Bartlett, & Schelp LLP.[3]  In 2013, he left to become a Partner at Husch Blackwell, LLP, where he still practices.

History of the Seat

Schelp has been nominated for a future vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.  This seat will open on August 1, 2020, when Judge Stephen Limbaugh moves to senior status.  In November 2018, Schelp reached out to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to express his interest in the vacancy.[4]  After interviewing with Blunt, Schelp was recommended to the White House in May 2019.  Schelp was officially nominated for the seat on December 2, 2019.

Legal Experience

Schelp began his legal career as a member of the JAG Corps in the Navy.  Then, after a short stint in private practice, Schelp spent nine years as a federal prosecutor.  In this position, Schelp primarily prosecuted economic crimes, including the prosecution of Donald Sanders, an inmate who doctored tax returns to defraud the federal government.[5]  Schelp also helped to prosecute Democratic State Rep. Henry Bowman for bribing a bank official.[6]  This latter prosecution attracted criticism from some who argued that the U.S. Attorney’s Office (under Schelp’s boss Catharine Hanaway) was targeting Democrats and sidestepping crimes committed by Republicans.[7]

Since 2010, Schelp has been in private practice, working primarily on white collar defense and compliance matters.  While there, Schelp represented former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in defending against a series of criminal probes which eventually led to his resignation as Governor.[8]  Schelp also represented St. Louis attorney Edward Griesedeck III, who was charged with misappropriating political donations.[9] 

Political Activity and Memberships

Schelp has a fairly active political history, including memberships in the Republican National Lawyers Association and the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy.[10]  Schelp has also frequently donated to Missouri Republicans including Blunt, Hawley, and Congresswoman Ann Wagner.[11] 

Overall Assessment

Both of Trump’s nominations to the federal bench in Missouri have proven deeply controversial due to their strongly conservative backgrounds.  Schelp lacks the hot-button triggers that Clark and Pitlyk had, but will still attract Democratic opposition from his conservative record.  However, unless questions are raised regarding political prosecutions from his U.S. Attorney time, it is unlikely that Schelp would draw enough opposition to cost his confirmation.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees: Matthew Schelp 1.

[2] See id. at 2.

[3] See id. 

[4] See id. at 25.

[5] Peter Shinkle, Prisoner Created Fake Tax Returns in $73,000 Scam, Indictment Says, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 29, 2004.

[6] States News Service, State Representative Pleads Guilty to Bribing a Bank Official, States News Service, Jan. 11, 2008.

[7] See, e.g., Howard Beale, Our Fair, Impartial, Non-Partisan U.S. Attorney’s Office Still Pulling For Blunt, Fired Up! Missouri, Jan. 21, 2008.

[8] See Kurt Erickson, One of Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ Attorneys Picked For Federal Judge Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov. 7, 2019.

[9] See Alan Scher Zagier, Ex-Mo. Gov. Wilson Seeks Probation for Donations, A.P. State & Local Wire, July 5, 2012.

[10] See Schelp, supra n. 1 at 5-6.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Tues 2/11: Judges matter. Call your senators! Brasher is up today! – INDIVISIBLE VENTURA

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