Judge Gordon Gallagher, who has served as a federal magistrate judge for the past decade, is Biden’s fourth nominee to the federal district court bench in Colorado.
Gordon Gallagher attended Macalester College in St. Paul, graduating in 1991. He then received a J.D. from the University of Denver Strum Law School in 1996.
After graduating, Gallagher spent two years at Underhill and Underhill P.C. and then joined the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office. In 2000, Gallagher became a solo practitioner.
In 2012, Gallagher was appointed to be a U.S. Magistrate Judge and has served as such since.
History of the Seat
Gallagher has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. This seat will open on February 10, 2023 when Judge William Martinez takes senior status. Gallagher was previously recommended by Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper to replace Judge Christine Arguello, but fellow magistrate judge Nina Wang was chosen instead. Gallagher was then nominated to replace Martinez.
Gallagher began his legal career at the firm of Underhill and Underhill P.C. before spending two years as a state prosecutor. However, the vast majority of his pre-bench career was spent as a solo practitioner, where he worked primarily in criminal defense. Among his notable cases, Gallagher represented Cheyenne Corbett, a teen mom charged with murder for the death of her baby shortly after it was born. See Teen Mom Charged with Murder Invoked Privacy Law, A.P. State & Local Wire, July 28, 2006.
Gallagher has served as a federal magistrate judge since his appointment in 2012. In this role, he presides by consent over civil matters and misdemeanors, assists district judges with discovery and settlement, and writes reports and recommendations on legal issues. Among the cases that he presided over, Gallagher handled a number of cases involving damage to federal lands. For example, he found Scott Wagner guilty of damage for building an unapproved pond partially on federal property. See Man Found Guilty for Altering and Damaging Forest Service Lands Within the Gunnison National Forest, Targeted News Service, Dec. 7, 2012. In another case, Gallagher sentenced Earl Bennett to a year of probation and $30000 in restitution for illegally building a road on federal property. See Man Sentenced for Illegally Building Road on U.S. Forest Service Land, U.S. Fed News, Aug. 27, 2018.
Writings and Statements
Gallagher has made a couple of media statements in his role as an attorney. For example, in 2003, Gallagher commented on the performance of Pamela Mackey, the defense attorney for Kobe Bryant in his rape trial. See Mike Wiggins and Michael C. Bender, Questions of Ethical Propriety Arise Over Bryant’s Defense, Cox News Service, Oct. 10, 2003.
Throughout his legal career, Gallagher has held a variety of positions, including as a prosecutor, a defense lawyer, and a judge. As such, his qualifications for a federal judgeship are undeniable. If Gallagher is given a hearing this Congress, he will likely be confirmed easily. However, given that Martinez is not taking senior status until next February and that a Republican senate might find Gallagher an acceptable nominee, it wouldn’t be surprising if Democrats prioritized other judges.