Justice Greg Guidry – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

Greg Gerard Guidry (R) has been a Louisiana state court judge since 2000.[1] He has served on the state’s 24th Judicial District Court, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal (state), and as an Associate Justice on the Louisiana Supreme Court, which position he has held since since 2009.[2] In January of 2019, the White House nominated Guidry to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.[3]


Guidry, 58, is married with two children and currently lives near Covington, Louisiana.[4] He has been “riding and showing Western performance horses since [he] was nine years old,” and has “three horses, two dogs, three cats, four chickens and about 30 cows on a farm in St. Tammany Parish.”[5] He grew up in Marrero, Louisiana, where he attended public schools through high school.[6] According to a 2015 interview with Guidry, he knew he wanted to be a lawyer in high school and “really never strayed from that goal.” Although he “did not have a specific idea of exactly what [he] wanted to do as a lawyer,” he “could see that lawyers played an integral role in public life, and [he] wanted to be a part of that,” which made it “an easy decision.”[7]

Guidry received a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University (LSU) in political science and classical civilizations and a Juris Doctor from LSU’s law school (1985).[8] In law school, he was inducted into the Order of the Coif and “selected for the Louisiana Law Review on the basis of grades.”[9] Guidry was also awarded a “Rotary Foundation Scholarship for International Understanding,” during which he studied classical civilizations and Roman law at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa.[10]

After his scholarship year, Guidry began working at the oil and energy firm Liskow & Lewis in New Orleans in its commercial litigation division.[11] He switched to the public sector in 1990, when he began a nearly ten-year stint as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. As a federal prosecutor, Guidry’s work focused mainly on public corruption and commercial fraud,[12] and he also served as a supervisor, ethics officer and grand jury coordinator.[13] Guidry’s Louisiana Supreme Court bio (and other sources that have republished this bio) states that Guidry “received commendations for his work from the United States Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.”[14]

Guidry was a district court judge on the Twenty-Fourth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Jefferson from 2000-06 and a circuit court judge (Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal) from 2006-09. In 2009, he won an election for a position as an Associate Justice on the state’s highest court.[15] The New Orleans Advocate noted that “Guidry’s election…represented part of an ideological and partisan shift on the state Supreme Court. He replaced retiring Justice Pascal Calogero, a New Orleans Democrat who had served as the court’s chief justice.”[16] In 2010, Guidry received a master’s degree in judicial studies from the National Judicial College.[17] He has also served as a legal advisor and trial advocacy instructor to the Republic of South Africa and the United States Virgin Islands, and has “helped to train judges and prosecutors in the African nation of Malawi as they come to grips with complex financial fraud and corruption cases.”[18] He has been a member of the Federalist Society since 2000 and has stated publicly that he intends to remain a member if confirmed.[19]

History of the Seat

President Trump nominated Guidry for the seat in January of 2019. Both of Louisiana’s U.S. senators, Bill Cassidy (R) and John Kennedy (R) have praised the nomination.[20] The seat was left open by Judge Kurt Engelhardt, who has been promoted to a position on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.[21] Guidry’s confirmation would fill the last open seat on the bench at the Eastern District of Louisiana.[22]

Legal Career

Guidry has spent most of his pre-bench career as a federal prosecutor.  In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Guidry spoke about this position, noting, “It was the treat of a lifetime to walk into a courtroom and say on a regular basis, ‘I’m here today to represent the United States of America.’”[23] Searchable cases from Guidry’s legal practice are few and far between.[24] A LexisNexis search reveals one published case, a criminal defendant’s appeal from his conviction (U.S. v. Howard, 991 F. 2d 195 (5th Cir. 1993) (affirming conviction; appellant not entitled to a lesser included offense instruction because the indictment was narrowly drawn)), and one unpublished case. U.S. v. Cureaux, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14210 (E.D.La. 1998) (denying defendant’s motion for release on bail pending appeal).

In Guidry’s legal career, he has occasionally faced allegations of legal and ethical improprieties. For example, in early 2000, while running for a judgeship, Guidry was accused by his opponent of violating the Hatch Act, which regulates federal employees’ political activities. Specifically, he was accused of accepting endorsements for his campaign for state district court judge before formally resigning as an Assistant United States Attorney. Guidry denies knowing about the complaint when it was made, being contacted by the DOJ in an investigation into the complaint, and engaging in any unauthorized political activity.[25]

In 2007, while Guidry was on the state appellate court, that court’s chief of central staff, Jerrold Peterson, committed suicide in his office, leaving notes revealing illegal practices by the court. For 13 years the court had been denying pro se prisoners’ writ applications without a three-judge panel reviewing them, as required by law.[26] The court had instead illegally allowed one judge to handle all pro se writ applications from 1994 to 2007.[27] Guidry’s opponent in the 2009 election for a position on the state Supreme Court criticized this practice, to which Guidry responded “I had no hand in it or knowledge of it.”[28]

During his 2008 campaign for the state Supreme Court, Guidry’s opponent in the race also accused him of using official court stationary to solicit campaign funds. Guidry has vehemently denied that this happened, contending that the stationary “was designed, created, printed, and distributed without public funds,” and that “the letter was not a solicitation, but an invitation for volunteers to serve on [his] campaign committee.”[29] The Louisiana Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee found Guidry’s opponent’s claims unsubstantiated.[30]

However, the same committee found that a mailer that Guidry had prepared for part of his 2008 campaign for the state Supreme Court violated the state’s code of judicial conduct, which prohibits judges and judicial candidates from “knowingly make or cause to be made a false statement concerning the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent.”). Guidry’s objectionable statements pertained to decisions by his opponent for the seat, Judge Jimmy Kuhn, and were “found not to be supported by the facts.”[31] The committee had investigated the statements in response to a complaint about same. In a public statement, Guidry explained the statements in detail, that “[a] media consultant retained by my campaign had created them, and I had relied upon the facts as presented to me,” and that he “specifically and unequivocally took full responsibility for the use of this campaign literature without any delay.”[32] No discipline was ever imposed as a result of the flyers. Guidry stated of this incident: “nothing similar has happened in my career either before or after these mailers. If confirmed, I will maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct and comply with the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.”[33]

Also in 2008, Guidry was the only judicial candidate nationwide that was endorsed by the Family Research Council (FRC), a group criticized as being antichoice and anti-LGBTQ, who has received the designation of hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[34] The FRC’s executive director, David Nammo, has claimed to have had “several conversations with Guidry and that they considered Guidry’s election crucial to the future of the Louisiana court.”[35] Guidry has denied seeking the FRC’s endorsement.[36]


Describing his judicial philosophy, Guidry has said, “I believe that every person that comes to court deserves to be treated the same.”[37] Guidry has also noted that cases “involving the death penalty and the termination of parental rights” are “the two categories of cases that are most likely to cause me to lose sleep at night because of their extreme consequences.”[38] Reflecting on changes he has seen in his involvement in the judicial system, Guidry stated that “[t]he cost of accessing our court system has risen to a level which I believe is not acceptable.” Indeed, to the extent that a “first offense misdemeanor charge could lead to a massive financial obligation for someone of meager means[,] [s]ometimes, we are setting people up to fail.”[39]

Guidry has served on the Louisiana Supreme Court since 2009.  As such, Guidry was the sole dissenting judge in the Louisiana Supreme Court case Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. State, 118 So.3d 1033 (2013), which struck down Louisiana’s school voucher system as violating the state Constitution. The state Constitution establishes how monies are to be allocated to public schools based on a formula adopted by the state board of education. Then-Governor Bobby Jindal’s 2012 package of education reforms diverted money from each student’s per-pupil allocation to cover the cost of private or parochial school tuition.[40] In Guidry’s view, “the record showed that, once a student leaves a school district, the district is no longer entitled to the state’s share of the [per-pupil allocation] for that student, and thus the district’s state share…is removed from” the district’s overall allocation of funds, thus avoiding any constitutional problem.[41]

Additionally, in Costanza, et al. v. Caldwell, et al. (NO. 2014-CA-2090), which was the state of Louisiana’s appeal from a lower court’s ruling declaring Louisiana’s Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the Louisiana Supreme Court considered the effect of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, which came down while the appeal was pending.  The plaintiff-appellees were Louisiana women who got married in California, which had legalized gay marriage, and then sought to enforce their marriage when they returned to Louisiana, where same-sex marriage was still illegal. Additionally, one of the plaintiff-appellees had a biological son, who the other plaintiff-appellee sought to legally adopt after they were married. In light of SCOTUS’s then-recent opinion, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a per curium opinion denying the appeal as moot, noting that SCOTUS’s “interpretation of the federal constitution is final and binding on this court.”[42] Guidry wrote separately in a concurrence to criticize a dissenting judge. The full text of Guidry’s concurrence:[43]

Judges are bound by oath to follow the law regardless of our personal opinions, and we insist that everyone appearing before us do the same. The dissenting opinion suggests we should not follow the holding of the Supreme Court of the United States. However, it cites no legal authority. It cannot, because there is none to support its position. I am bound by my oath as an elected justice of this state to abide by the rule of law.

I must also respond to the dissenting opinion’s assertion that the “most troubling prospect of same sex marriage is the adoption by same sex partners of a young child of the same sex.” The dissenting opinion appears to be unaware of the facts of the case before us, which involves the intra-family adoption of a boy by the female spouse of the boy’s biological mother. See In re Adoption of N.B., 14-314 (La. App. 3 Cir. 6/11/14), 140 So.3d 1263. In any event, the dissenting opinion cites no legal or scientific authority, nor does the record contain any evidence, that would support its insinuation.

Guidry echoed this sentiment in his answers to written questions from Senator Feinstein in February, 2019.[44] E.g., Answer 2(a) (“if I am confirmed as a district court judge, I will follow Roe v. Wade, which has been Supreme Court precedent for more than 40 years, as well as all other Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit precedent.”)


In 1984, Guidry published a student note that criticized Louisiana’s physician-patient privilege statute and suggested that courts should be allowed to circumvent it in certain circumstances. Greg G. Guidry, Note, The Louisiana Supreme Court and the Physician Patient Privilege: Arsenaux v. Arsenaux, 44 La. L. Rev. 1813 (1984). He analyzed a state supreme court case, Arsenaux v. Arsenaux, in which a husband sought to access his wife’s medical records “in order to use evidence of an alleged abortion against her in divorce proceedings.”[45] The trial court held that the records were privileged, which Guidry criticized as an “inequitable” and “harsh” result. Senator Feinstein asked Guidry about this note earlier this year: “Do you still believe that the judiciary should be given the flexibility to undermine physician-patient privilege, even when it would interfere with a woman’s right to privacy in her reproductive choices?”[46] Guidry responded: “The issue presented in Arsenaux v. Arsenaux was whether the husband, who had undergone a vasectomy, was entitled to the medical records of the wife to prove adultery as a ground for divorce. In my case note for the Louisiana Law Review, I pointed out that the majority of the court felt constrained by the language of the health care provider statute and had correctly adopted a literal interpretation of the statute as enacted by the legislature, rather than judicially create any additional exceptions to the medical records’ privilege. 44 La. L. Rev. at 1819. It was properly within the legislature’s purview to provide any further guidance to the courts to resolve actions in which an essential issue is the existence of a mental or physical condition or ailment.”[47]

Guidry was published in the Louisiana Law Review again in 2010. Greg G. Guidry, The Louisiana Judiciary: In the Wake of Destruction, 70 La. L. Rev. 1145 (2010).[48] His aim was to “offer insight into the intimate details of the state courts’ response when faced with the near collapse of the legal system’s infrastructure,” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Id. at 1146. “These post-storm issues include the magnitude of catastrophic destruction, the longterm displacement of the entire New Orleans population, the paralysis of neighboring cities and states with the mandatory evacuation of coastal communities, and the scope of inadequate governmental response.”

Overall Assessment

Guidry is highly qualified for the federal judiciary and, as seen from his concurrence in the Costanza matter, appears to apply the law faithfully, regardless of political orientation. The ethical violations raised against him in the past are unlikely to pose difficulties for his confirmation, as they are either relatively minor or actively contested by Guidry himself.  As such, it is likely that most Republicans (who control the Senate) will give Guidry the benefit of the doubt on the matter.


[10]http://www.lasc.org/justices/guidry.asp. A complete list of Guidry’s honors, recognitions, an employment can be found in his response to the Senate’s Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees, available at https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Greg%20Guidry%20SJQ%20-%20PUBLIC.pdf.

[19] https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Guidry%20Responses%20to%20QFRs.pdf (Sen. Feinstein Questions, at 7; Sen. Whitehouse Questions, at 3).

[24] The author found no cases from Guidry’s time in private practice.

[36] Id.

JP Hanlon – Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

James Patrick (“J.P.”) Hanlon is President Trump’s nominee for a seat in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.[1]  Based on of Indianapolis, Indiana, Hanlon has worked both as a prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer.  He is currently a partner at a prominent Indianapolis firm, where his work centers on white collar criminal defense.[2]  As of the publishing of this article, he had not yet been rated by the ABA.[3]


Born in 1970, Hanlon earned his B.A. in history from DePauw University (1992) and his J.D., magna cum laude, from the Valparaiso University School of Law (1996), where he served as an articles editor of the Valparaiso University Law Review.[4]  Shortly thereafter, he clerked for Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.[5]  He worked as an associate in the defense-side labor and employment practice group at Seyfarth Shaw LLP for three years, after which he began a five-year stint as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.[6]

In 2006, Hanlon moved to Baker & Daniels LLP, which in 2012 merged with Faegre & Benson LLP to become Faegre Baker Daniels, where Hanlon is currently a partner and co-chair of the firm’s white collar defense and investigations practice.[7]  His work at Faegre Baker Daniels includes representing clients in government investigations, enforcement proceedings, and related civil litigation; leading corporate internal investigations; and helping clients resolve complex compliance issues.[8]  From 2010-11, Hanlon taught courses on white collar crime as an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.[9]

Hanlon has received extensive professional honors and recognition, including The Best Lawyers in America — White Collar Criminal Defense (2013-18), Indianapolis White Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer of the Year (2015-16), Indianapolis Business Journal Forty Under 40 Award (2010), Indiana Super Lawyers — Rising Star, Criminal Defense: White Collar (2009-10), and Indy’s Best and Brightest — Recipient, Law Category (2008).[10]

Indiana’s senators have publicly supported Hanlon alongside Holly Brady, President Trump’s nominee for the Northern District of Indiana.  Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind) said they have “earned excellent reputations in the legal community as experienced litigators in the types of cases that come before federal trial courts.” He described them as “fair, impartial and highly regarded attorneys with the right temperament to serve on Indiana’s district courts.”  Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) echoed these sentiments, stating that “Both nominees have strong legal backgrounds and a range of experiences that have prepared them for the federal bench.”[11]

History of the Seat 

Hanlon has been nominated for a vacancy that will open on July 1, 2018, when Judge William Lawrence moves to senior status.  He was already under consideration, however, for the seat vacated by Judge Sarah Evans Barker (the White House nominated Indianapolis attorney James Sweeney to fill that seat), for which he applied to Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.).  While he interviewed with Young in April 2017, Hanlon was not contacted by the White House until December.  Hanlon also began contact with the office of Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) shortly therafter.  He was nominated on April 12, 2018.

Legal Career

In a Westlaw search, Hanlon appears on behalf of the government and criminal defendants in a handful of unpublished cases involving supervised release disputes and evidence suppression hearings.

The only published cases Hanlon appears in on Westlaw are from his labor and employment defense days. In Moriarty v. Svec, 55 F.Supp.2d 876 (N.D. Ill. 1999), a union trustee sued the owner of funeral home and livery business under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), seeking payment of delinquent contributions action to recover unpaid pension fund contributions on behalf of some of the owner’s employees.  The defendant funeral home owner, represented by Hanlon, was part of the Funeral Directors Services Association (“FDSA”), a multi-employer bargaining association representing approximately 250 businesses, until he withdrew from the FDSA in 1995.  Id. at 877-78.  Accepting Hanlon’s argument that recovery of three instances of allegedly unpaid pension contributions could have been litigated in prior related litigation, the court granted summary judgment to defendants on res judicata grounds as to those three instances.  The court held, however, that a material issue of fact existed for a separate count for recovery of pension funds occurring after defendant announced its withdrawal from the FDSA.  Whether defendant properly withdrew from the FDSA and was capable of paying those funds after his withdrawal required a trial.

In Alverio v. Sam’s Warehouse Club, 9 F. Supp. 2d 955 (N.D. Ill. 1998), a retaliation claim under Title VII, the district court granted summary judgment to the defendant employer, represented by Hanlon.  The court found that the plaintiff, a former employee, had failed to show a causal connection between her filing the discrimination charge and her dismissal over one year later, noting that the employer’s reason for discharge (the plaintiff’s alleged involvement in altercation with a coemployee) was not “patently inconsistent with the evidence.”  Id. at 963.  The court denied summary judgment on the employee’s hostile environment claim, holding that the defendant employer was vicariously liable for the bad actor’s conduct.

Hanlon has also engaged in pro bono work, including serving on Indiana University School of Law’s wrongful conviction clinic, representing asylum applicants in removal proceedings, and representing victims of domestic violence in obtaining orders of protection.[12]

Speeches/ Writings

Hanlon has published extensively over the past decade on practical guidance in white collar criminal defense.  In 2008, he co-authored the article, Rethinking How to Respond to Government Investigations, which responded to growing concern among corporations and white-collar defense lawyers in the wake of the 2006 Enron criminal prosecutions, at which point many practitioners contended that federal prosecutors routinely required companies to waive the attorney-client and work-product privileges as a prerequisite to getting credit for cooperation.[13]  Then-Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip (himself a former federal judge) released a 2008 memo announcing substantial changes to the DOJ’s policies then in effect, explicitly prohibiting seeking waiver of the privilege (although a corporation could still choose to waive).  Despite these changes, “the fundamental questions the government will ask in judging the corporation’s culpability remain essentially the same: 1) what steps did the corporation take to prevent the misconduct; and 2) what steps did the corporation take after learning of the misconduct to prevent it from happening again.”  Hanlon’s article provides practical guidance to the corporate criminal defense lawyer: beef up, proactively review, and fine-tune corporate compliance programs before any criminal investigation commences. Id. at 35.  “By proactively rethinking how to respond to a government investigation, a corporation can take action today that will help it when the government comes knocking.”  Id. at 36.

In his 2009 book, Punishing Corporate Crime: Legal Penalties for Criminal and Regulatory Violations, Hanlon discusses criminal punishment trends directed at corporations, analyzing the historical and statutory bases of corporate punishment and reviewing the remedies now employed by the government.  The book also offers advice in addressing the new and evolving punishments that face corporations and discusses preventative programs.[14]

Hanlon co-authored the 2013 article Keeping a Watchful Eye: The FBI’s Crackdown on Insider Trading, explaining the government’s crackdown on insider trading, admonishing “ organisations and compliance professionals [to] take steps to ensure that compliance processes are in place to prevent and detect insider trading activity before the government does.”[15]  Among the processes Hanlon  recommends are “creat[ing] an environment in which prompt reporting is culturally and professionally encouraged, thereby avoiding Dodd-Frank prohibitions against retaliation against whistleblowers,” and monitoring and establishing policies regarding employees’ use of social media for social vs. business purposes, consistent with the employees’ privacy interests.  Id. at 14-15.

Hanlon has also spoken on a wide range of corporate and white collar criminal defense topics as a panelist or presenter.  At the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in 2017, he discussed the DOJ’s new enforcement priorities under the Trump administration and how those changes could impact the defense bar and U.S. Attorney’s Offices.[16]  He also presented at a 2016 CLE entitled “Crisis Management and the Legal Responses to a Government Investigation,” and a 2015 ABA roundtable, “How the DOJ’s Yates Memo Impacts Corporate Liability and Internal Investigations.”[17]

Overall Assessment

Hanlon’s experience in criminal law, both as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, labor and employment experience, and demonstrated expertise in corporate law issues make him an experienced and relatively noncontroversial candidate for the federal bench.  Research has not revealed any public political affiliations, consistent with Sen. Young’s (R-Ind.) effusive review of Hanlon as “fair, impartial and highly regarded … with the right temperament to serve on Indiana’s district courts.”  As such, Hanlon will likely be confirmed.

Jon Katchen – Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska

Jonathan W. Katchen is President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.  His career has been in natural resources law, both in the private and public sectors.


Jonathan Katchen, 42, lives in Anchorage, Alaska.[1]  He grew up in the affluent town of Gladstone, New Jersey.[2]  He earned his B.A., cum laude, and his M.A., both in Theology, from Boston College in 1998 and 2001, respectively, and his J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2004.[3]  Katchen worked in Alaska as a Jesuit volunteer before beginning a summer internship in the state during law school.[4]  He clerked for now retired Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (President Trump’s older sister) upon graduating law school.[5]

Katchen has served as Special Assistant to Alaska’s former attorney general, Dan Sullivan, and as an Assistant Attorney General in the Oil, Gas & Mining Section.[6]  As Assistant Attorney General, Katchen counseled the Attorney General, Governor, and senior state officials on oil and gas lease disputes, permitting natural resource development on federal lands, and pipeline regulatory issues.[7]

From 2010-12, Katchen served as the Intergovernmental Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, advising senior administration officials and state legislators on natural resource issues and leading the department’s administrative appeals and litigation and providing counsel to the the then-Commissioner, Dan Sullivan.  Sullivan is currently Alaska’s U.S. senator (R).[8]

In 2012, Katchen began working in private practice at the Anchorage office of Crowell & Moring LLP, a large corporate law firm, where he practiced in environmental and natural resources law and regulatory industries.[9]  In 2017, he moved to Holland & Hart, where he currently practices oil and gas law.[10]

History of the Seat 

Katchen has been nominated to a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.  The vacancy opened with Judge Ralph Beistline’s move to senior status on December 31, 2015.  No nomination was put forward to the vacancy during the Obama Administration.

Katchen was one of five names submitted by Alaska’s senators, Sullivan and Murkowski, an unusually large number.[11]  Alaska’s former senator Mark Begich has suggested that the longer list may have been the product of the state’s senator’s disagreeing on who to send forward.  As Murkowski put it, ”We put forth a longer list in an effort to align our priorities.”[12]

Some have criticized Katchen’s nomination as the product of his connections and politics, rather than merit.[13]  Retired Superior Court Judge Elaine Andrews, who presided over Alaska’s Anchorage courts, has indicated that Katchen is not qualified for the position: “We should be taking the very best we have, and he may be decent, he may be very good, but he’s not the best we have.”[14]  Katchen ranked 13th out of 20 applicants on the Alaska bar association poll, with 31 percent rating him “extremely qualified” or “well qualified,” compared to 66 percent who gave those ratings to the top applicant, Eric Aarseth, a highly rated state judge since 2005.[15]  As writer Charles Wohlforth noted, “Two law school summer jobs and a clerkship are the extent of [Katchen’s] criminal law experience.”[16]

Legal Career

As outlined above, Katchen’s relatively short career has been primarily in the public sector.  He does not appear as counsel in any published cases on Westlaw.

Katchen was the state’s lead negotiator in a multi-year negotiation over Point Thomson, one of the largest undeveloped oil and gas fields in North America situated in a remote arctic area off of Alaska’s northern coast.[17]  The negotiation revolved around a long-standing dispute between Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Exxon regarding Exxon’s drilling in Point Thomson.[18]  Although Point Thomson holds 8 trillion to 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of millions of barrels of gas and oil liquids, as of 2005 it had never produced oil or gas.[19]  The state of Alaska leases acreage to developers who seek to drill for oil and gas, and Exxon had long held the rights to a significant portion of the Point Thomson acreage.  In 2005, the DNR Director denied as inadequate Exxon’s plan of development for Point Thomson, which led to the state’s revoking their leases to drill, prompting several years of litigation challenging that decision.[20]  The state argued that Exxon was obligated either to produce the liquids and send them down the existing trans-Alaska oil pipeline, or relinquish the leases so they could be auctioned off to another developer.[21]  These legal battles were finally put to rest with the 2012 settlement agreement, negotiated primarily by Katchen, which required Exxon to build a pipeline from Point Thomson to deliver product to the trans-Alaska pipeline and to produce 10,000 barrels per day of natural-gas condensates by the winter of 2015-16.[22]  Point Thomson has been developed since the agreement was finalized and now contributes the agreed-upon 10,000 barrels of product per day, which one commenter called “a major victory for the Alaska economy.”[23]

Katchen has received accolades from Alaska’s former governor, Sean Parnell, and former Attorney General (now U.S. Senator (R)), Dan Sullivan, who describe him as “an extremely competent attorney” and someone who will “make an exceptional jurist who will faithfully apply the law and uphold the Constitution.”[24]  He was named in Chambers USA’s 2015 publication, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, in the environment, natural resources, and regulatory industries category.[25]

Speeches/ Writings

Katchen has written a handful of opinion pieces for the Anchorage Daily News since 2014.[26]  One such piece responds to Ray Metcalfe, a former Alaska lawmaker, who criticized then Attorney General Dan Sullivan for allegedly not criminally prosecuting Alaska oil giant Bill Allen for child sex crimes.[27]  Katchen explained that Allen was not prosecuted because his abuse of a minor violated only federal (not state) law, and the U.S. Department of Justice would not cross-designate the Alaska Department of Law so as to give Sullivan the authority to prosecute Allen for federal crimes.  “Thus, the only question that needs to be answered is why did Obama administration officials refuse Dan’s request to cross-designate state prosecutors to pursue a federal criminal action against Allen.”[28]

Katchen has also been openly critical of Alaska’s current governor, Bill Walker, for not prioritizing or developing policies that will result in additional oil production through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.[29]  Decline in oil production means decline in the state’s economy, on top of the problems caused Walker’s “erratic” tax reform attempts, which Katchen criticizes as discouraging investors from investing in further developing Alaska’s oil and gas fields.[30]

Katchen authored a 2016 amicus on behalf of Alaska’s congressional delegation submitted in the U.S. Supreme Court case Sturgeon v. Frost, 136 S.Ct. 1061 (2016).  The case arose out of the National Park Service informing an Alaskan hunter that he could not pilot his hovercraft on a particular river.  The hunter filed suit, arguing that federal law limited the Park Service’s jurisdiction to portions of the river owned by the state of Alaska, and that the river where he operated his hovercraft was not state-owned.  The district court and the 9th Circuit rejected this argument, finding the exercise of jurisdiction appropriate.  On his involvement as amicus for appellant’s Supreme Court case, Katchen explained: “Right now, they haven’t done this, but the Park Service has the authority to say to a Native corporation, ‘You can’t build a lodge on your lands. You can’t build a trail. You can’t do berry-picking. You can’t land a plane.’ If the Ninth circuit’s decision in Sturgeon doesn’t get overturned they will have that authority.”[31]  The Supreme Court agreed, reversing the lower courts in a unanimous opinion, holding the Park Service may only regulate “non-public” lands in Alaska according to Alaska-specific laws.

Overall Assessment

Katchen has unimpeachable expertise in natural resources law and has earned the respect of his colleagues.  However, it is unclear how his expertise would translate to the federal judiciary, where judges’ dockets are widely varied and typically center on criminal law (where Katchen’s experience is more limited).

So far, Katchen has strong support from senator Sullivan, while senator Murkowski’s support is unclear.  He has also not yet been rated by the ABA.  As noted above, Katchen’s nomination has received some criticism for his youth and his perceived leapfrogging over more experienced candidates.  However, there is no requirement that a judicial nominee be the “most” qualified candidate in the state.  As there is little public controversy surrounding Katchen’s career and as he has accomplished himself professionally, he will likely be confirmed.

Maureen Ohlhausen – Nominee to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims

The Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC),[1] Maureen Ohlhausen has worked in private FTC litigation, held a variety of posts at the FTC, and worked as a staff attorney and clerk in D.C.’s federal appeals court and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  She now is a nominee to that very court.


Ohlhausen graduated from the University of Virginia in 1984 with a B.A. in English, with distinction, and earned her J.D., with distinction, from the George Mason University School of Law in 1991.[2]  Upon graduating from law school, she clerked for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, after which she clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1994-1997.  Following her clerkships, she began a 12-year stint at the FTC, where she started as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel and ultimately became Director of the Office of Policy Planning.[3]  In 2009, she was policy counsel at the Business Software Alliance, a private firm specializing in the software industry private firms centering on software and technology, and from late 2009-2012, she practiced law at FTC practice group, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP, where she was a partner.[4]  Ohlhausen has served as an FTC commissioner since 2012, and President Trump designated her as the FTC’s acting chairwoman in 2017.[5]

History of the seat

President Trump has nominated Ohlhausen to sit as a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, a court of special jurisdiction that hears monetary claims against the U.S. government.[6]  Judges on the court serve for 15-year terms and are eligible for reappointment.[7]  The seat Ohlhausen was nominated for opened up on January 8, 2016, with Judge Lawrence Block’s move to senior status.  While five Obama nominees to the CFC were approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously on February 26, 2015, the nominations were blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who argued that the CFC did not need any more judges.[8]  No nominee was ever put forward for the Block seat.[9]

Legal Career & Views

Ohlhausen is a Republican and an outspoken critic of government regulation.[10]  A believer in free markets, Ohlhausen has frequently used the term “‘regulatory humility’ to describe her philosophy on federal policymaking.”[11]  She has also advocated deregulation of and limited governmental intervention in the marketplace, a philosophy she put into practice in nominating fellow prominent deregulation advocate Thomas Pahl to the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection last year.[12]

For example, she opposes broad occupational licensure requirements (i.e., the governmental requirement of a license to pursue a particular profession or vocation).[13]  Indeed, as her “first major initiative as Acting Chairman, [Ohlhausen] formed the Economic Liberty Task Force to help” prevent or roll back “unnecessary or overbroad occupational licensing and to partner with state leaders and other stakeholders.”[14]  See also infra, “Speeches and Writings” for an expanded discussion of Ohlhausen’s views on this issue.

More controversially, Ohlhausen is an outspoken opponent of net neutrality laws, and instead believes that its ends can be achieved via antitrust enforcement.[15]  Under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2015 net neutrality regulations, Internet service providers’ (ISPs) were prohibited from blocking or throttling internet traffic, and from charging websites and online services for faster, more reliable services.[16]  In late 2017, shortly before the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality and during Ohlhausen’s tenure as FTC chairwoman, the FCC and FTC entered into a memorandum of understanding whereby ISPs may promise consumers that they will follow net neutrality guidelines.  If they break this promise, the FTC has jurisdiction to punish them for deceiving consumers.  The FTC’s jurisdiction thus depends on ISPs voluntarily making, and then breaking, net neutrality promises to consumers.[17]  Opining on the memorandum, Ohlhausen reiterated the FTC’s “committ[ment] to ensuring that Internet service providers live up to the promises they make to consumers.”[18]

Speeches and Writings

By virtue of her position as acting chairwoman, Ohlhausen has publicly taken a number of positions regarding market entry, market deregulation, and the effects of regulation in terms of fairness to consumers.  The following samples some of her more recent speeches and writings.

Ohlhausen authored a 2016 journal article, Administrative Litigation at the FTC: Effective Tool for Developing the Law or Rubber Stamp?[19]  The article is the most comprehensive empirical study of the FTC’s “Part 3 process,” an administrative process that empowers the FTC to challenge alleged unfair or deceptive trade practices through administrative litigation.  If the FTC invokes this process and the respondent challenges the charges against it, the case is tried before an Administrative Law Judge, and then the FTC reviews the judge’s decision de novo.  In the past ten years, the FTC has never rejected an action that it previously authorized.  By analyzing the disposition of cases that go through the Part 3 process and the factors at play in the FTC’s charging decisions and subsequent affirmance, the article challenges Part 3 critics’ contention that the FTC’s review of its own charging decision is essentially a rubber stamp, concluding that the Part 3 process plays a crucial role in developing the law.

In May of 2017, Ohlhausen delivered a speech at a seminar covering the first 100 days of the Trump administration.  She explained three of the Trump administration’s priorities pertaining to the FTC: unleash job creation, correct federal government overreach in a number of areas, and reform federal regulatory processes and reduce burdensome regulation.[20]  She praised these efforts as aligning with the FTC’s efforts “to expand and strengthen our competition advocacy work,” “ prevent meaningful consumer harm, not [] redesign the economy as we see fit,” and “eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulatory requirements that hurt our economy.”[21]

In July of 2017, Ohlhausen was the keynote speaker at an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, where the topic was the promotion of regulatory reform for occupational licensing requirements.  During the speech, Ohlhausen argued that unnecessary occupational licensure requirements are “barriers to entry” that “harm[] workers, consumers, and the economy as a whole.”[22]  Unnecessary licensing requirements, she explained, are those where there are not information asymmetries between professionals and consumers, in non-technical fields, and those where consumers can “easily observe service quality.”[23]  For example, “in certain health care occupations, consumers could face serious risks if treated by unqualified individuals, yet find it difficult (or impossible) to assess quality of care at the time of delivery. In such circumstances, a license requirement might help improve public health and safety.”[24]  In contrast, licensing requirements in fields where “consumer risks are low or entirely speculative” are inappropriate.  She used the example of cosmetology: “A bad haircut or makeup application is markedly obvious to a consumer and to all of her friends. Bad haircuts or makeup applications quickly have consequences for the cosmetologist. The consumer risk is low and fleeting, but the excessive licensure requirement is not – it creates a large burden on those seeking to enter the workforce and limits competition.”[25]  More broadly, she explained that “licensure disproportionally affects those seeking to move up the lower and middle rungs of the economic ladder,” as it requires people to expend time and money on meeting often state-specific licensing requirements.[26]

In a December 2017 speech at Georgetown University, Ohlhausen explained her view that large, growing companies, such as Amazon or Google, do not unduly threaten competition and are not on track to becoming monopolies prohibited by antitrust law.  Companies’ occupying a big portion of the market at one time, she explained, does not erode free and open markets, and instead the touchstone of antitrust enforcement is the actual likely harm to consumers in an open market system.[27]  Monopolies, she explained, are acceptable as long as they gain consumers by merit, rather than anticompetitive practices short-circuiting their competition.  Even practices such as a company’s artificially lowering its prices to eliminate competition, then raising prices once it did so, are permissible because so long as the possibility of marketplace “entry remains, possible predation [of competitors] makes no economic sense.”[28]  In her concluding remarks, she described herself as neither “a champion of today’s leading Internet firms nor their foe,” and her and the FTC’s policy positions as ones “that [leading internet firms] sometimes love and sometimes hate.”[29]

Of her January 2018 nomination to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Ohlhausen stated: “I am honored that the President has expressed his intent to nominate me to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, one of the oldest federal courts in our nation. In the meantime, I will continue to serve at the Federal Trade Commission until a time when I may be so fortunate as to be confirmed to the Court of Federal Claims by the United States Senate.”[30]

FTC Administrative Decisions

Commissioner Ohlhausen has participated in over 1,000 administrative FTC decisions, including merits determinations of alleged FTC violations and policy guidance issued by the commission.[31]  The following highlights positions that Ohlhausen has taken within this administrative process evincing her focus on and prioritization of free markets via deregulation:

In 2012, Ohlhausen dissented from the FTC’s decision to withdraw a 2003 policy statement that it would not pursue disgorgement (pursuit of monetary equitable relief) except in the clearest of cases of FTC violations.[32]  She criticized the commission’s proffered basis for rescinding the policy statement, that it “has chilled the pursuit of monetary remedies in the

years since [its] issuance,” as not based in empirical evidence to this effect.  She further criticized the commission’s stated view that, instead of the policy statement, the FTC “will rely instead upon existing law, which provides sufficient guidance on the use of monetary equitable remedies,” as a toothless statement that “ could be used to justify a decision to refrain from issuing any guidance whatsoever about how this agency will interpret and exercise its statutory authority on any issue.”[33]

Since that dissent, Ohlhausen has been vocal about her opposition to the decision to withdraw this policy statement in subsequent decisions, including those in which she concurred in the decision to pursue disgorgement.  In a 2015 decision, FTC v. Cephalon, Inc., the FTC found that Cephalon had engaged in anti-competitive conduct by paying four firms to refrain from selling generic versions of Cephalon’s patented drug for an extended period of time, thereby inhibiting competition and denying patients access to lower-cost versions of the drug.[34]  Ohlhausen agreed that disgorgement was appropriate, but because Cephalon’s conduct met the test laid out in the since-rescinded policy statement.  She noted in her concurrence, “the incentive to pursue monetary remedies more frequently, particularly in other cases without a clear violation, may cause the Commission to neglect its special mission to develop the antitrust laws through Part III litigation and other unique tools. That concern is only heightened now that we are counting disgorgement in the billions of dollars.”  She reiterated these concerns in her 2017 concurrence to In the Matter of Mallinckrodt ARD Inc., where the FTC found that a pharmaceutical company engaged in anticompetitive conduct by attempting to create a monopoly with respect to a particular drug.[35]  Ohlhausen expressed “concerns about [the] aspect of the remedy” for this conduct that required the company to pay over $100 million in disgorgement.  The case, Ohlhausen contended, should have been handled through the FTC’s administrative process rather than filed in federal court (a predicate for pursuing and obtaining the remedy of disgorgement).[36]

In 2013, the FTC filed a complaint against and conducted an investigation of Google, In the Matter of Google Inc., for its alleged anticompetitive practices relating to, inter alia, seeking to enjoin putative licensees of Google’s “standard essential patents” (patents required to comply with a technical standard, thereby encouraging adoption of a common platform among rival producers, which in turn fosters competition).  This, the FTC charged, violated Google’s duty to offer such patents on “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.”[37]  The FTC and Google ultimately reached an agreement whereby Google agreed to not seek such injunctions, as well as remove restrictions on the use of its online search advertising platform that may have made it more difficult for advertisers to coordinate online advertising campaigns across multiple platforms.[38]  Ohlhausen criticized the portion of the decision related to these restrictions as not premised on a showing of actual harm to competitors in the form of increased costs or Google’s monopolization of the market, thus potentially discouraging innovation by needlessly punishing Google.[39]  “If our cases – particularly our standalone [unfair and anticompetitive practices] cases – are not anchored to competitive and ultimately consumer harm, then they are completely adrift. I am hopeful that the Commission will maintain its focus on competitive and consumer harm as it moves beyond this matter.”

Overall Assessment

Ohlhausen has a long, distinguished career in FTC-related private practice and the FTC itself.  While her economic knowledge and experience are unimpeachable, it is not clear that her expertise relates to the subject matter of lawsuits within the U.S. Court of Federal Claims’ jurisdiction — claims for money damages arising from the United States Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, or an express or implied in fact contract with the United States Government.[40]  However, the economy is not an esoteric subject and her knowledge base is not inapposite to the claims the court hears, she has served in an adjuratory capacity as an FTC commissioner, and she has substantial federal clerking experience, including on the Court of Federal Claims.  As such, Ohlhausen will likely be confirmed by the Senate.

[6] 28 U.S.C. §§171-72.

[8] Jordain Carney, Cotton Blocks Senate From Approving Federal Claims Judges, The Hill, July 14, 2015, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/247934-cotton-blocks-senate-from-approving-federal-claims-judges.

[9] Daniel Wilson, Claims Court a Quiet Victim of Senate Nomination Deadlock, Law360, July 18, 2016, https://www.law360.com/articles/817931/claims-court-a-quiet-victim-of-senate-nomination-deadlock.

[16] https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/12/voluntary-net-neutrality-will-protect-consumers-after-repeal-fcc-claims/

[27] https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2017/09/12/internet-companies-too-big-ftc-chair-says-more-than-market-share-counts/656394001/

[28] https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2017/09/12/internet-companies-too-big-ftc-chair-says-more-than-market-share-counts/656394001/

[29] https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2017/09/12/internet-companies-too-big-ftc-chair-says-more-than-market-share-counts/656394001/

[31] Westlaw search conducted by author February 25, 2018.

[33] FTC v. Cephalon, Inc., Separate Statement of Commissioners Maureen K. Ohlhausen & Joshua D. Wright, at 3 (May 28, 2015), https://www ftc.gov/public-statements/2015/05/separate-statement-commissioners-maureen-kohlhausen-joshua-d-wright.

[35] In the Matter of Mallinckrodt ARD Inc., Concurring Statement of Maureen K. Ohlhausen, 2017 WL 395523 (Jan. 18, 2017).

[36] In the Matter of Mallinckrodt ARD Inc., Concurring Statement of Maureen K. Ohlhausen, 2017 WL 395523 (Jan. 18, 2017).

[40]  28 U.S.C. § 1491.

Judge Kari Dooley – Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut

Republican Kari Anne Dooley, a judge for Connecticut’s Superior Court (trial court) since 2004, has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.[1]  Before becoming a judge, she worked in private practice as well as serving for 12 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut.[2]


Dooley, 54, was born in New York City on May 9, 1963.  She earned her B.A. in psychology from Cornell University in 1985 and her J.D. (cum laude) from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1988.[3]  After graduating law school, she began her career in civil litigation and criminal defense at Whitman & Ransom (now Whitman Breed) in Greenwich, Connecticut.[4]  A mother of two, in 1992, Dooley moved to the public sector as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, staying in the office for twelve years.[5]  She served as counsel to the U.S. Attorney in 2004 until starting as a state court judge.[6]  She currently sits on Connecticut’s Superior Court in Waterbury and hears cases on the complex litigation docket.[7]  Dooley was nominated at the recommendation of Connecticut’s two democratic senators.[8]

History of the Seat

Dooley was nominated to a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on December 20, 2017.  The vacancy opened on January 1, 2017, with Judge Roberty Chatigny’s move to senior status.

In May 2017, Dooley applied for the judgeship with Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats.  They recommended Dooley to the White House in August 2017.  Trump officially nominated Dooley on December 20, 2017.

Legal Career

While counsel to the U.S. Attorney, Dooley served as the Child Exploitation and Obscenity coordinator.[9]  Dooley has been involved in a number of high-profile prosecutions involving white collar fraud and child sex crimes.  She was involved in the 1993 prosecution of Stew Leonard, patriarch of the eponymous Connecticut grocery store, for $17.1 million in tax fraud.  He was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison.  She also aided in the 1997 prosecution of his son, Tom Leonard, who pleaded guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns.[10]  She worked with the child victims of the 2001 prosecution of Waterbury, Connecticut’s Mayor Philip Giordano, who was sentenced to 37 years for using his influence and political position to systematically sexually assault children.[11]  Connecticut U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor described her work interviewing the children victims as “masterful[].”[12]  In 2002, she brought 24 federal charges against Martin Frankel stemming from swindling small insurance companies in a scam that caused at least $200 million in losses.[13] In 2004, she prosecuted Danbury, Connecticut lawyer Bernabe “Bernie” Diaz for having sex with and receiving pornography of his girlfriend’s underage daughter.[14]

Dooley by all accounts has a reputation for being fair and a talented lawyer.  Counsel for criminal defendant Diaz, see supra, stated that Dooley “always struck [him] as being fair even though she’s a U.S. Attorney,” and “someone who knows their way around a courtroom.”[15]  Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor has praised Dooley’s ability to work with child victims and her “demonstrated … commitment to the pursuit of justice,” and has decried her as “an immensely talented lawyer.”[16]  The state’s senators echoed these sentiments in their public statement lauding her for having “earned the deep respect of her colleagues and peers”[17]


Dooley has not presided over any published cases, and has participated in 12 unpublished cases, which address a range of criminal and civil issues.[18]  As Dooley puts it, her “judicial responsibilities have included presiding over a variety of criminal, civil, housing and juvenile matters,” and “[s]ince 2012, [she] ha[s] been assigned to the Complex Litigation Docket in Waterbury, Connecticut.”[19]

Connecticut senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, in a statement released following Dooley’s nomination, described her as having “a well-deserved reputation for her tireless work ethic, a high standard of integrity, and an admirable judicial temperament.”[20]


While research has not revealed publications or speeches by Dooley, Dooley commented on her 2004 nomination to a seat on Connecticut’s state trial court, calling it “a real privilege,” and stating that she “look[ed] forward to staying in public service.”[21]

Overall Assessment

Dooley’s long tenure as a federal prosecutor and state court judge, as well as her glowing reputation among her legal community, make her a consensus candidate for the vacancy.  Although research has revealed relatively little about Dooley, the unanimously positive endorsements she has received for her work both as a lawyer and as a judge suggest an even-handed and thoughtful approach, which should, logically speaking, translate to an apolitical approach as well.

[18] Westlaw search conducted by author, January 21, 2018.

[19] https://linkedin.com, input “Kari Dooley” in search, first result.

Ryan Bounds – Nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Ryan Bounds, a federal prosecutor, is President Trump’s first nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  An Oregon native and an accomplished lawyer, with experience in private practice and the public sector, Bounds has not received the support of the state’s senators, who contend that his nomination was made in contravention of the state’s bipartisan selection process.


Ryan Wesley Bounds was born on June 28, 1973 and is a Hermiston, Oregon native.[1]  He graduated from Stanford University in 1995 with a B.A. in psychology and political science.  At Stanford, he was an editor of the conservative student-run newspaper, The Stanford Review,[2] and of The Thinker, a Stanford newspaper that Bounds and a liberal student founded with the stated goal of providing a neutral forum to express opposing opinions about the topics du jour, an ethos captured in its masthead: “For every issue, there is another side; think about it.”[3]  In 1999,

Bounds graduated from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law and Policy Review, an editor of the Yale Law Journal, and vice-president of the Yale Federalist Society.[4]  He was also editor-in-chief of a 1998 Federalist Society symposium issue of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.[5]

From 1999-2000, Bounds clerked for Judge Diarmuid  F. O’Scannlain on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit,[6] whose vacancy he would fill if confirmed.[7]  From 2000-04, he practiced commercial law at Stoel Rives LLP in Portland, Oregon.[8]  From 2004-07, he served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff in the Office of Legal Policy at the DOJ.  From 2007-08 and for part of 2009 he was the Special Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.  From 2008-09 he was the Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Immigration Policy for the Domestic Policy Council.[9]  From 2010 until the present, he has prosecuted federal crimes as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.10

History of the Seat

Bounds has been nominated to an Oregon seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  This seat opened on December 31, 2016 with O’Scannlain’s move to senior status.  Bounds was recommended for the judge vacancy by U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R – Or.), whose chief of staff is Bounds’ sister.11  Oregon’s two democratic senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley offered Oregon District Judge Marco A. Hernandez to the White House.  However, the White House nominated Bounds on September 7, 2017.

In response, both Wyden and Merkley declined to return blue slips on Bounds, noting, in a letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn that Bounds had not been approved by the state’s bipartisan judicial selection committee as of his nomination date, and that they had not been adequately consulted.12  McGahn disputed the lack of consultation and instread criticized the senators for not engaging with or vetting Bounds for several months after his name was first proposed.13  Bounds’ American Bar Association rating is ‘Unanimously Qualified.’14

Legal Career

Bounds has a well-rounded legal career: trial and appellate work, civil and criminal work, and government and private practice at a top firm in Portland.15  Bounds’ career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney has centered on prosecuting immigration crimes (2010-2011) and fraud and environmental crimes (2011-present).16

Most of the major actions Bounds has worked on are in immigration and criminal law. The following cases are examples of his work: U.S. v. Vasquez, 843 F. Supp. 2d 1147 (D. Or. 2012) (dismissing assault with a dangerous weapon indictment because prison floor that defendant inmate slammed his victim into was not a dangerous weapon); U.S. v. Trujillo-Alvarez, 900 F. Supp. 2d 1167, 1170 (D. Or. 2012)(holding illegal entry defendant in custodypending prosecution violated his statutory right to pretrial release); U.S. v. Vidal-Mendoza, 705 F.3d 1012 (9th Cir. 2013) (illegal entry defendant had been adequately informed that he was ineligible for voluntary departure due to previous rape conviction, and could not successfully collaterally attack his earlier removal order on grounds that he had not been so advised);Ghahremani v. Gonzales, 498 F.3d 993, 1000 (9th Cir. 2007) (Board of Immigration Appeals abused its discretion by denying defendant’s motion to reopen his case as untimely because equitable tolling applied); Price v. U.S., 985 A.2d 434, 435 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (affirming theft conviction).


As Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Bounds advocated for the maintenance of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) when the issue was before the House of Representatives in 2007.  The question at bar was whether the PLRA’s terms, including the requirement that prisoners exhaust administrative remedies, that attorney’s fees are capped at 150% of any monetary recovery (i.e., if the recovery is $1, the PLRA caps attorney’s fees at $1.50), and that serial filers will be liable for court costs, have led to meritorious claims of prison abuses going unremedied.17  Bounds argued that the PLRA’s stated objective of decreasing frivolous prisoner lawsuits”has preserved the ability of legitimately harmed inmates to gain access to the courts and prevented the negative effects of frivolous cases in ever greater numbers.”18

While an undergrad at Stanford, Bounds co-founded The Thinker, a student publication aimed at providing a neutral forum where people of different political views can express their opinions freely and thoughtfully.20  Explaining what led him to co-found the paper, he expressed irritation “that there were some issues that I couldn’t talk about honestly on this campus.”  Bounds called Stanford’s conservative publication, The Review, “a service” in providing a forum where “people don’t toe the liberal line,” as in the liberal publication Stanford Daily, but saw the need for a single platform where “people with opposing viewpoints can meet on common ground.”21

Overall Assessment

Bounds’ relatively long, diverse career in litigation makes him an experienced candidate for the bench. While Bounds’ political orientation is decidedly conservative, his public positions have not been dogmatic or particularly ideological.  If Bounds is able to overcome the blue slip hurdle and gain the support of his home state senators, he will likely be confirmed.

[1]1http://pioneercourthouse.org/board-members-bios.html; http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2017/09/trump_nominates_oregon_federal.html



[5]5https://ballotpedia.org/Ryan_Bounds; http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/hjlpp21&div=8&id=&page=