New York Assistant Attorney General Jorge Rodriguez, would be, if confirmed, the first Hispanic judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. However, his nomination has been the source of an ugly battle regarding his duty station, and Rodriguez becomes the first Biden nomination from a blue state who is more likely than not to remain unconfirmed.
Jorge Alberto Rodriguez got his Bachelor of Arts from the Vanderbilt University in 2000 and went on to earn his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2004. After law school, Rodriguez spent five years as an associate at Mahoney & Keane in New York City and then four years at Deily & Glastetter in Albany. In 2014, Rodriguez became an Assistant Attorney General in New York, where he currently works.
History of the Seat
Rodriguez has been nominated to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. This seat was to be vacated when Judge David Hurd takes senior status (he indicated that he will do so upon confirmation of a successor). However, Hurd expressed umbrage when Rodriguez was nominated, noting that he would only take senior status upon the appointment of a successor based in Utica (where Hurd sits). Hurd subsequently, after representatives for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand indicated that Rodriguez was willing to move to Utica, unconditionally revoked his desire to take senior status.
Rodriguez spent the first decade of his legal career in private practice, where he largely focused on corporate law. Among the matters he handled in this time, Rodriguez represented an attorney being sued for part of a share of legal fees by another attorney retained by the same client. See Gelband v. Matthews, 851 N.Y.S.2d 63 (Civil Ct. City of New York, New York Cnty, Sept. 26, 2007). He also represented shipping companies in an action brought against a dock side transportation company, which was dismissed for lack of federal jurisdiction. See Mediterranean Shipping Co. (USA) v. Rose, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85615 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 23, 2008).
Rodriguez also handled appellate matters during his time in private practice. For example, Rodriguez sought to overturn a dismissal by the trial court for his action for breach of contract and for replevin (an equitable remedy that involves returning personal property wrongfully seized). See Americredit Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Decoteau, 103 A.3d 761 (N.Y. App. Div. 2013).
Since 2014, Rodriguez has worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York. In this capacity, Rodriguez worked on civil recoveries and participated as an interested party in the prosecution of Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager who was convicted of securities fraud, and his co-defendant Evan Greebel. See United States v. Greebel, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 225669 (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 13, 2017). See also United States v. Shkreli, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 230343 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 26, 2018).
More recently, Rodriguez has defended against lawsuits challenging Governor Kathy Hochul’s school mask mandates. See Robert Gavin, Biden Picks Clifton Park Litigator as Region’s Next Federal Judge, Times Union, July 13, 2022, https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Biden-picks-Clifton-Park-litigator-for-AG-as-17303062.php.
With a career largely in commercial and civil litigation, Rodriguez would largely have avoided controversy in his confirmation. However, the controversy now rests on the seat he seeks to fill. With Hurd choosing to remain on the bench, it is unlikely that a vacancy still exists for Rodriguez to fill. Nonetheless, the White House has not withdrawn his nomination and the vacancy is still indicated on the U.S. Courts website (for now). Nonetheless, Rodriguez has little choice but to wait and hope that Hurd chooses to change his mind.