The Kansas-based vacancy on the Tenth Circuit vacated by Judge Mary Briscoe in March 2021 is the oldest pending appellate vacancy on the federal judiciary. After eighteen months without a nominee, the White House has put forward the name of federal prosecutor Jabari Wamble.
Jabari Brooks Wamble got a B.A. from the University of Kansas in 2002 and a J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2006. After graduating, Wamble spent two years in the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office before becoming an assistant attorney general in Kansas.
In 2011, Wamble joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas and has served there since.
Wamble is married to Marissa Cleaver, the daughter of U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver from Kansas City, Missouri.
History of the Seat
Wamble was tapped for a Kansas seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The seat was vacated by Judge Mary Briscoe’s move to senior status on March 15, 2021.
Wamble has spent his entire career in criminal prosecution, albeit at three different levels. He started his career at the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office. From 2007 to 2011, Wamble served in the Kansas Attorney General’s office. While at the Attorney General’s office, Wamble defended the conviction of Oliver McWilliams for Medicaid fraud. See State v. McWilliams, 283 P.3d 187 (Kan. 2012). While the Court of Appeals reversed McWilliams’ conviction, the Kansas Supreme Court reinstated it over the dissent of Justice Johnson.
Since 2011, Wamble has served as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas. Among his notable prosecutions with the office, Wamble prosecuted Richard Ballard, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud for collecting investment for environmentally friendly bottled water and pet chews, and then using the funds for personal use.
Wamble has also briefed and argued a number of appeals before the Tenth Circuit. For example, he was counsel of record in a suit that affirmed the defendant’s conviction for failing to pay child support. See United States v. Fuller, 751 F.3d 1150 (10th Cir. 2014).
Despite his youth, Wamble has built a solid reputation during his legal career, which likely speaks to Kansas Senator Jerry Moran’s relatively positive reaction to the nomination of a young Democrat for the Kansas seat. See Hannah Albarazi, Biden’s 10th Cir. Pick Seen as Humble Yet Savvy Prosecutor, Law360, Aug. 11, 2002. While some may criticize Wamble for having leapfrogged more experienced candidates due to his connection to Cleaver, there is little to criticize in Wamble’s record itself. If Democrats make his nomination a priority, Wamble will likely be confirmed before the end of the Congress.