Judge Jonathan Grey – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

Just last year, federal prosecutor Jonathan Grey was tapped to be a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the Eastern District of Michigan. Grey has now been nominated for a lifetime appointment on the court.


Jonathan James Canada Grey received a B.Sc. from Morehouse College in 2004 and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2007. He then clerked for Judge Willie Sands on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and for Judge Damon Keith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

After his clerkships, Grey returned to the firm of Seyfarth Shaw, where he had briefly worked before clerking, but left after just a year to become a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. In 2016, he shifted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.

In 2021, Grey became a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the Eastern District of Michigan, where he currently serves.

History of the Seat

Grey has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. This seat opened on May 1, 2022, when Judge Denise Hood moved to senior status.

Legal Career

Grey started his legal career at the firm of Seyfarth Shaw but then spent approximately a decade as a federal prosecutor in Michigan and Ohio. Among the matters he handled as a federal prosecutor, Grey defended the Internal Revenue Service’s failure to file complaints alleged tax evasion against businesses within 90 days of seizure of assets. See Ed White, Feds Returning $205K to Businesses Targeted by IRS, A.P. State & Local Wire, Nov, 20, 2013. Judge Sean Cox ordered the return of the seized funds. See id. While in Ohio, Grey tried the case against Richard Jerel Doyle for illegally possessing a firearm. Northern Ohio Felon Sentenced to 100 Months for Illegally Possessing a Firearm, States News Service, Apr. 7, 2017. Doyle was convicted after a two day jury trial and was sentenced to a prison term of 100 months by Judge Edmund Sargus. See id.

While Grey was with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Judge David Lawson threw out a conviction in a case he was handling (it is unclear if Grey was trial counsel or joined the case post-trial) for a violation of Brady (the Brady rule requires prosecutors to turn over all exculpatory or mitigating evidence). See United States v. McClellon, 260 F. Supp. 3d 880 (E.D. Mich. 2017). Specifically, Judge Lawson ruled that the government should have turned over information that a key police witness had been suspended for false statements but also noted: “The Assistant United States Attorney cannot be faulted here for the nondisclosure.” Id. at 884.

Political Activity

Grey’s only donation of record that could be found was a $50 donation in 2016 to Charles Hill, a Democrat running for mayor of Stonecrest, Georgia.


Grey has served as a federal magistrate judge since his appointment in 2021. One of Grey’s duties as magistrate judge is to issue Reports and Recommendations on substantive motions for the district judge. See, e.g., Huizar v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119873 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 4, 2022). During his short tenure, Grey has had a handful of his recommendations rejected in part. For example, Judge Terrence Berg rejected in part Grey’s report recommending the granting in part of motions for summary judgment in an ERISA suit. See Washington v. AT&T Umbrella Ben. Plan No. 3, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177510 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 29, 2022). Similarly, Judge Shalina Kumar rejected Grey’s recommendation that a plaintiff’s First Amendment retaliation claim be dismissed. See Seymoure v. Ferguson, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179603 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 30, 2022).

Overall Assessment

Given the compressed timeline this year for judicial nominations, it is looking less likely that Grey will be confirmed to the Eastern District before the end of the Congress. However, his nomination should be relatively uncontroversial before the next Congress.


  1. While his career seems to be more traditional than progressive, I do like that this Morehouse graduate is barely 40. Young black men are sorely lacking on the federal bench so I’m hoping he is actually progressive but took a more traditional route in his career then his personal politics are. With last nights better than expected election results, there’s a very good chance Democrats will still be in the majority next term so he should sail to confirmation barring any unexpected surprises.


  2. So many takeaways from last night… One of my favorite result so far is Maryland apparently voting to change the name of their top court from Court of Appeals to Supreme Court. New York should be next!


    • Oh wow, I didn’t realize there was any other state court besides New York who had their Supreme Court not be the highest court. Good job Maryland. And an absolutely great job with their new governor. I still can’t believe he is only the third Black governor in the history of the country. I thought there were others besides Wilder in Virginia & Duval Patrick in Massachusetts but I guess not.


      • @Dequan

        Just seeing this comment.
        Don’t forget about David Paterson in NY. He’s not on many people’s list because he was never elected. He was elevated when Spitzer went down in a scandal. Yeah, it’s like a New York trend now.
        Anyway, Paterson’s couple years as gov weren’t inconsequential. He’s the one who gave us Kirsten Gillibrand when Hillary Clinton left the Senate to be Obama’s SoS.
        And, of course, there are quite a few Reconstruction-era black govs, but I understand why they are in a different category.


  3. OMG my comment finally posted. I have been trying to post for the past two weeks & it wouldn’t post saying “Awaiting moderation”. I emailed Harsh Voruganti three times but didn’t get a reply. I thought I was blocked for some reason… Haaaaaa


    • Ohhh. There are you are. @Dequan. I just received 17 e-mail notifications of “new comments” that I guess just went through. I also see a new icon on your posts. I wonder if Shawn is experiencing the same difficulties, as I haven’t seen him comment in weeks either. I’ve been kind of quiet, as I’ve been working on a Georgia statewide race (unfortunately, we didn’t win, but luckily the nationwide results turned out better than even I expected). I honestly think Harsh should consider moving this blog to Substack, as its interface is much better for discussions in the comments section than WordPress is. But it appears he doesn’t read much of our stuff if he didn’t reply to your e-mails. I figure he stays quiet as although he is an ACS member, he probably needs to avoid posting his personal opinions of judicial nominees, as he works for the City of Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney in VA (per his LinkedIn).


      • Hi Ethan, I’m not sure why it seems like months of comments from regular commenters had shifted from automatic approval to manual, so I’ve been going through the backlog now to try and approve as many of the relevant comments as I can. I’ve been sharing some of the frustrations with WordPress that you indicated myself and will definitely look into Substack or other hosts to see if they provide an easier interface/experience. I appreciate you (and @Dequan and everyone else) who have commented and discussed judicial nominations courteously and enthusiastically on here. It’s what motivates me to grab my laptop after a long day of work and start researching and writing. Thanks so much for your readership and support. Harsh

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes Ethan I’m still here. I have been keeping up with your list daily the past couple of weeks I haven’t been able to post here. And yes Stacey Abrams not getting elected really disappointed me. Hopefully Biden can find a position in the administration for her if she so choses to take that route.

        It almost hurts as much to see Warnock got 49.6%. So close to avoiding a runoff. I will post another post about my thoughts on the election & rest of the year in the senate later now that I know I can post again.


    • Definitely not blocked. You’re an MVP in these discussions and I always appreciate your contributions. As discussed below, I’ve been having issues with comments that should have been approved automatically not being that way. I also apologize for the email issue. It’s set to go to my old firm email and forward but sometimes gets marked as spam. Thanks again for your enthusiastic and insightful comments on here.


      • @Harsh Voruganti

        Thank you for the kind words. I thoroughly enjoy your blog & was genuinely sad when I thought I could no longer post for whatever reason. I know you’re a super busy man so I completely understand how this could have happened without you realizing it until today. I look forward to your continued wisdom & work here& I appreciate it very much.


  4. Checking the results this morning, Arizona and Nevada are both looking more and more likely to stay in the incumbents hands. It’s looking like Georgia will be a battle over whether or not Ds get a 51st seat rather than 49 or 50.

    In the short term I wonder what this might mean for the senate. Does Schumer focus on uncontroversial nominees and passing other bills knowing that he’ll have at least two more years to confirm controversial noms? If Dems get 51 they’d also be able to restructure SJC and vote Abudu/RB/Ho and others through.


    • @Joe

      I think what judges getting confirmed this year will depend on timing of the last 3 results. If Arizona & Nevada are called for the Democrats the it will depend on the runoff results. I don’t expect any of the discharged or controversial nominees to get a vote in the next 4 weeks.

      Warnock will likely be out next week. The week after the senate is on recess for Thanksgiving. The week after that Warnock will likely also be out. The following week is the election that Tuesday. That means Warnock will be out more than likely Monday to Wednesday. Schumer may just hold off any of the more liberal judges that entire week just in case Warnock needs to stay in Georgia for any post election issues.

      That’s where timing comes in at. If Warnock loses then you may see a push to get some confirmations between December 12th week & the couple of days the following week before the senate is finished for the year. If Warnock wins then as much as it hurts me to type this, it makes more sense to hold off on all the discharges nominees until January. Instead of wasting the 4 hours senate floor time, just let Biden renominate them & the SJC should be able to vote them out with a Democrat 1 seat advantage on the committee.

      Now another wild card may be senator Sasse. If he retires to take the UF job then we will need to see when his replacement is chosen. If he stays until the end of the year then he may also miss some votes which brings us to a 49-49 senate. And keep in mind some retiring senators possible could also phone it in for the year & stay hood as well.

      Bottom line is we need Arizona & Nevada to be called hopefully by the time the senate is back in session Monday night. Both so we can have a better picture on how aggressive Schumer needs to be & also dir my sanity & sleep schedule… Haaaaaa


      • That would make sense to me as well Dequan. I suspect that is the route Schumer will take and in the meantime he will work on Electoral Count Act, Gay Marriage, and the Defense Bill while sprinkling in a few district judges here and there.


      • Definitely. Use the rest of the year to pass legislation that a Republican House won’t pass in the next two years but sprinkle in some non controversial judges. And by the way there are some circuit court judges that are also non controversial. Doris Pryor & Dana Douglas should be able to get confirmed even without Warnock.

        With that said, Durbin should absolutely hold at least one if not two more SJC hearings besides Tuesday’s. Also at a minimum Biden should announce nominees for the blue state 1st & 4th vacancies. I expect the Indiana & Texas seats may not be announced until after the runoff or next year.


  5. Now on to another subject. I know most people are blaming gerrymandering, the Supreme Court & a few other reasons for the impending small Republican House majority, & rightfully so. However, I would like to also place blame in one direction I haven’t read anywhere else. And that’s blaming Andrew Cuomo.

    While of course Democrats took a beating in Florida, they exceeded expectations pretty much everywhere else. The one glaring exception was New York where it looks like Republicans may flip 5 House seats. I blame Andrew Cuomo for this.

    The New York Court of Appeals (Their highest court) ruled in favor of Republicans in their redistricting lawsuit. Out of the 7 New York justices that ruled in this case, six were Cuomo appointees. He did a horrible job in his appointments to the court. Out of the six, one is an outright Republican. His two most recent picks were conservative, but rumor was he chose them because he felt they would be favorable to him in any cases brought against him for his sexual harassment lawsuits. His appointments in a bright blue state of conservatives to the highest court caused this ruling that the rest of the country will now have to suffer ethe consequences of for the next two years.


    • “However, I would like to also place blame in one direction I haven’t read anywhere else. And that’s blaming Andrew Cuomo.”

      That’s probably because you don’t live here. He is getting a lot of the blame. This is a statewide disaster. My beloved NY is redder than some red state. At the time when the Court of Appeals issued its ruling, I blasted it on here. Not only did Dems do a poor job defending it, but they also didn’t go all the way by fighting it in federal courts. With SCOTUS’s nonjusticiable precedent for political gerrymandering, NY Dems should have won!

      Notwithstanding Coumo’s culpability, Zeldin’s strong campaign put many of those new GOPers over the line. It was a perfect storm.

      What is unclear now is if Dems retained their supermajorities in Albany. If they do, they can try again with the maps (no, they don’t have to wait until 2031). Hochul now needs to appoint a decent judge to the Court to flip the balance. If Dems redraw the maps in the next two years and they are successful in defending them in the courts, these newly elected GOPers could very well only serve in congress for a single term.
      Until then, my poor state has to carry the long curse of Cuomo.


  6. Just to show how important state Supreme Court judges are, this tweet sums it up best…

    Hard to fathom, but it’s entirely true, Andrew Cuomo probably cost Democrats the House….He should have never run for governor….He should have just spent his days at the Playboy Mansion and let a real Democrat run NY….


    • Rick & Gavi,

      Absolutely, he was a horrible governor for more than just the sexual harassment issues. And Gavi your absolutely right, I don’t live in New York & I actually wanted Cuomo to run for president in 2016 & 2020. I was dead WRONG on that in hindsight & extremely happy he didn’t.

      Gavi, as for New York redrawing the map in the next two years, I am not sure governor Hocul is going to do that. She just doesn’t seem to be that type of push that hard like I know my governor DeSantis would. I truly I am wrong.

      However, there is absolutely no reason why she can’t nominate a young progressive to the high court vacancy. By no means should this pick be another run of the mill pick.


    • Absolutely terrible how badly NY Dems did. Even with the court drawn map there should’ve been 3-4 more Dems that won, and that might have made the difference.

      Now I think a lot of those seats are winnable in a high turnout 2024, but it’s incredibly frustrating because by that point we very well may not have the Senate.


      • The senate map looks horrible for Democrats in 2024. That’s one of the main reasons Dems need to push hard for 51 votes in Georgia because there will be no less then 4 tough senate races in 2024 even with a good economy & Trump backed idiot candidates. Unfortunately, we may have to hope senator Sinema wins the primary. She will be the best hope to hold the Arizona seat. West Virginia & Montana will be super rough.


      • So Frank, while it hurts me to type this, I would say once Arizona & Nevada is called for Democrats then I think they should make legislation the priority for the rest of the year. With the House going to a Republican majority (Even a slim majority), any good legislation is out of the question for the next two years. So Democrats should prioritize that while they have the majority in the House for the rest of the year.

        Federal judges on the other hand can continue to be confirmed for the next two years since the House has no role in the process so the Republican majority wouldn’t stop anything on that front.

        So with me being laser focused on the judiciary, I think the best case scenario is Arizona & Nevada gets called by the middle of next week so Schumer can get started on judges. But I think after the Thanksgiving recess it would be beneficial to finish as much legislation as possible while Democrats have both houses of congress.

        After all legislation is complete, if there is any time left in the calendar then finish up on judges, especially since Warnock will be back in DC after the runoff. And by no means is anything I’m saying above reflective on the SJC. They should continue having hearings & executive meetings as scheduled.


  7. The SJC website is not showing an executive meeting for next week. This is disappointing because they could have held over all pending nominees that haven’t been voted out yet then voted them out the Thursday after Thanksgiving. I get it that there are so many pending nominees including 8 for the circuit court (2 of those 8 needs to be discharged) so whoever is voted out of the SJC next probably won’t get a vote until the last two weeks before the end of the year recess anyway, but it still would be nice just to get that hold over week out of the way.


    • Hey Dequan,

      How about this, you will probably laugh….Perhaps Schumer will keep the senate in next Friday and the SJC will hold a business meeting on Fri?

      I guess we have a better chance at winning Powerball then the senate being in on a Friday as well as having a business meeting that day as well


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