Toby Crouse – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas

Toby Crouse currently serves as Kansas Solicitor General, in charge of defending Kansas’ laws and regulations in state and federal court.  His experience in this role prepares him well for a career as a federal judge.


Toby Crouse received his Bachelor of Arts from Kansas State University and then his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law.  Crouse then clerked on the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas for Judge Monti Belot and then on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit for Judge Mary Beck Briscoe.

After his clerkships, Crouse joined the firm of Foulston Siefkin in their Overland Park office.[1]  In 2018, Crouse was tapped to replace Kansas Solicitor General Stephen McAllister (who became U.S. Attorney).[2]  Crouse currently serves in that capacity.

History of the Seat

Crouse has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.  This vacancy opened when Judge Carlos Murguia resigned on April 1, 2020.  Murguia’s resignation was prompted by his reprimand from the Judicial Council of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that he had sexually harassed court employees, among committing other acts of misconduct.[3]

Legal Experience

Crouse has extensive experience in litigation, both in his time at Foulston Siefkin and his time litigating as Kansas Solicitor General.

Foulston Siefkin

As an attorney at Foulston Siefkin, Crouse worked primarily in civil litigation, frequently defending municipalities and employers against civil rights and discrimination allegations.  In one case, Crouse represented the Geary County Sheriff’s Department against allegations of harassment of discrimination made by former employees.[4]  The suit ended in a settlement of the plaintiffs’ claiims.[5]  In another case, Crouse successfully pushed for the dismissal of a suit filed by a Sheriff fired for refusing to end the investigation into a man facing sex crime charges.[6]

Notably, Crouse was hired by the Republican legislature to gather evidence and present evidence before the Kansas Supreme Court in a lawsuit alleging disproportionate allocation of school funding.[7]  The suit had threatened to upend Kansas’ system for school funding after a 2010 ruling of the Kansas Supreme Court.[8]

Kansas Solicitor General

Since 2018, Crouse has served as Solicitor General for Kansas, where he has represented the State before state and federal courts.  Notably, Crouse argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2019-20 calendar, winning both.  In Kansas v. Glover, Crouse won a 8-1 victory in persuading the Court that it was reasonable for officers to assume that the owner of a vehicle was also the driver for Fourth Amendment purposes.[9]  In Kahler v. Kansas, Crouse similarly got a 6-3 majority to agree with his position that Kansas can abolish the insanity test in criminal prosecutions without violating the Constitution.[10]

In other cases, Crouse has defended Kansas’ school funding system before the Kansas Supreme Court,[11] and unsuccessfully argued that Kansas’ voting law, which requires proof of citizenship, is not preempted by federal regulations.[12] 

Overall Assessment

As an established attorney with extensive experience litigating in both state and federal court, Crouse certainly has the base level of experience to be a federal judge.  While he may face some opposition for his embrace of conservative legal positions as Solicitor General, such objections are unlikely to derail Crouse’s nomination.

[1] Press Release, Office of the Kansas Attorney General, AG Derek Schmidt Names Toby Crouse to Serve as Kansas Solicitor General (Jan. 26, 2018) (on file at

[2] See id.

[3] Arianne De Vogue and Caroline Kelly, Kansas Federal Judge Resigns After Sexual Misconduct Allegations,, Feb. 18, 2020,

[4] See Judge Grants Extension in Discrimination Case Against GESO, Junction City Daily Union, Sept. 29, 2015.

[5] See Resolution Reached in Discrimination Lawsuit, Junction City Daily Union, Feb. 16, 2016.

[6] See Lawsuit Alleging Sheriff Wrongfully Fired Detective Tossed, A.P. State & Local, Apr. 6, 2017.

[7] Top Kansas Lawmakers Hire Lawyer For School Funding Lawsuit, A.P. State & Local, Mar. 10, 2016.

[8] John Hanna, Kansas School Aid Debate Raises Tough Issues for Lawmakers, A.P. State & Local, Mar. 21, 2016.

[9] Kansas v. Glover, 589 U.S. __ (2020).

[10] Kahler v. Kansas, 589 U.S. __ (2020).

[11] John Hanna, Kansas Justices Express Doubt About School Funding Hike, A.P., May 22, 2018

[12] See also Lindsay Whitehurst, Kansas Hopes to Resurrect Proof-of-Citizenship Voting Law, A.P., Mar. 18, 2019.

Iris Lan – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Iris Lan, nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, brings a strong academic background and extensive governmental experience to the position.


The daughter of two professors, Iris Lan grew up in Manhattan, graduating from Stuyvesant High School in 1995.[1]  Lan received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and then entered a joint J.D.-PhD program at Harvard Law School, graduating in 2003.[2]

After graduating, Lan clerked for Judge William Bryson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  Lan then joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.  Lan also worked at the Department of Justice, becoming an Attorney Advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel.  During the Obama Administration, Lan served as Associate Deputy Attorney General and as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division.[3]  Lan is currently on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, serving with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General.

History of the Seat

Lan has been tapped for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to a seat vacated by Judge Katherine Forrest, who resigned from the Southern District on September 11, 2018.  Lan was originally nominated for the seat on December 2, 2019 and renominated on May 4, 2020.

Legal Career

During her time with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Lan has worked on a number of prominent criminal cases.  For example, early in her career, Lan worked on child pornography prosecutions under Operation Predator, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program to target pornographers and child traffickers.[4]  Lan also prosecuted Manuel Felipe Salazar-Espinosa, a drug kingpin charged with smuggling $100 million in cocaine.[5]

Among other matters, Lan prosecuted spy Ben Ami-Kadish for leaking military secrets to Israel,[6] and prosecuted terrorists for bombing U.S. embassies in East Africa.[7]


Lan hasn’t been particularly prolific as a legal writer, but did write a number of commentary pieces as a law student in the field of health law.  For example, Lan authored a number of pieces discussing developments in the field of health law.[8]  These articles were generally descriptive, although with some commentary.  For example, in one piece, Lan tentatively supports a Mississippi Supreme Court decision allowing liability for potentially exposing a patient to HIV, even where transmission is not proven.[9]

Overall Assessment

Given her credentials and extensive experience in litigation, Lan is qualified for a seat on the federal bench.  That being said, she is up against a ticking clock to the Presidential election.  Even if she maintains the support of her home-state senators, Republicans may choose to prioritize more conservative picks.

[1] Abby Y. Fung, Renaissance Woman Keeps On Runnin’, Harvard Crimson, June 10, 1999,

[2] See id.

[4] See, e.g., Press Release, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ex-CEO Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography, Obstruction of Justice, Aug. 4, 2006.

[5] Larry Neumeister, Lawyer Tells New York Jury Her Client Dealt Drugs But Not to US, A.P. State & Local Wire, June 11, 2007.

[6] Bruce Golding, Wrist Slap for Old Spy, N.Y. Post, May 30, 2009.

[7] See In re Terrorist Bombings of U.S. Embassies in E. Afr. v. Odeh, 552 F.3d 93 (Dec. 10, 2007).

[8] See, e.g., Iris Lan, COURT DECISION: Recent Developments in Health Law: American Journal of Law & Medicine and Harvard Law & Health Care Society: Pharmaceuticals: Conspiracy to Increase Ritalin Profits Alleged, 29 J.L. Med. & Ethics 100 (Spring 2001); Iris Lan, REGULAR FEATURE: Recent Developments in Health Law: American Journal of Law & Medicine and Harvard Law & Health Care Society: ADA: U.S. Supreme Court to Address Whether Carpal Tunnel Constitutes a Disability, 29 J.L. Med. & Ethics 407 (Fall/Winter 2001); Iris Lan, Recent Developments in Health Law: American Journal of Law & Medicine and Harvard Law & Health Care Society: AIDS: Mississippi Supreme Court Adopts New Standard for Fear of Exposure to AIDS, 28 J.L. Med. & Ethics 94 (Spring 2000).

[9] See Iris Lan, Recent Developments in Health Law: American Journal of Law & Medicine and Harvard Law & Health Care Society: AIDS: Mississippi Supreme Court Adopts New Standard for Fear of Exposure to AIDS, 28 J.L. Med. & Ethics 94, 95 (Spring 2000).

Dirk Paloutzian – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California

The Eastern District of California is known for being one of the most heavily overworked courts in the country.  The Court has not been expanded in decades, even as caseloads explode, and has relied heavily on senior judges to carry the burden.  As such, the nomination of Dirk Paloutzian, a business attorney from Fresno, is likely to be welcome news for the judges on the court.


Dirk Paloutzian was born in Fresno County, California on April 6, 1969.  Paloutzian attended the University of California at Berkeley, getting a B.A. in 1991.[1]  He then received a J.D. from the University of California Davis King Hall School of Law in 1994.[2]

Paloutzian served as an extern for Justice Marvin Baxter on the California Supreme Court and then became a Deputy District Attorney for the County of Fresno.[3]  In2 002, Paloutzian joined Baker Manock & Jensen in Fresno, where he currently serves as a Partner.

History of the Seat

Paloutzian has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, to a seat vacated on December 17, 2019 by Judge Morrison England.  Paloutzian’s nomination was announced on April 29, 2020, although he was not officially nominated until May 21, 2020.

Legal Experience

Paloutzian started his legal career at the firm of McCormick Barstow LLP, before spending five years as a prosecutor with the County of Fresno.  As a prosecutor, Paloutzian worked on a variety of criminal matters, including sexual assault, homicide and gang prosecutions.[4]  In 2000, Paloutzian became the county’s first elder abuse prosecutor, where he focused solely on prosecuting elder abuse cases.[5] 

Since 2002, Paloutzian has been handling business and commercial litigation at Baker Manock & Jensen in Fresno.  Among the more notable cases he has handled with the firm, Paloutzian represented dairy farms in Hawaii being sued for violations of federal water pollution laws.[6]  Paloutzian also represented psychiatrist Dwight Sievert, who was sued for damages after releasing Edward Coburn from psychiatric detention (Coburn went on to have a violent outburst directed at his father on an airplane).[7]  After a trial court judge found that Sievert was immune from damages in the suit, a panel of the court of appeals affirmed.[8]

Overall Assessment

With a Republican controlled Senate, Paloutzian’s biggest obstacle to confirmation (other than the election clock) is the return of blue slips by California’s Democratic senators.  As Paloutzian is a relatively uncontroversial nominee, it is likely that he will not be opposed by the senators.  Whether the Senate chooses to take up the nomination in the short calendar left is another story.

[1] See Baker, Manock & Jensen P.C., Dirk B. Paloutzian, (last visited Jun. 3, 2020).

[2] See id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] See id.

[6] Friends of Maha’Ulepu, Inc. v. Hawai’i Dairy Farms, LLC., 224 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (D. Haw. 2016).

[7] See Coburn v. Sievert, 133 Cal. App. 4th 1483 (2005).

[8] See id.