Judge Bernard Jones – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma

The Federal Courthouse in Lawton, Oklahoma

Judge Bernard Jones, while only forty, has already been on the bench for seven years.  His level of experience, alongside a relatively moderate record, should ensure a comfortable confirmation.

Background

Bernard Maurice Jones II was born in Oklahoma City in 1979.[1]  Jones attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, graduating with a B.A. in 2001.  He then attended Notre Dame Law School, graduating in 2004.

After graduating, Jones joined Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP as an Associate.[2]  In 2006, he moved to Oklahoma City to be an Associate at McAfee & Taft.  In 2008, Jones joined the Oklahoma City University of Law as an Associate Dean.

In 2012, Jones was appointed to be a District Judge in Oklahoma by Governor Mary Fallin.[3] In 2015, Jones became a federal magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.  He currently serves in that capacity.

History of the Seat

The seat Jones has been nominated for opened on July 1, 2019, with Judge Joe Heaton’s move to senior status.  Jones applied to fill the vacancy in February 2019.[4]  After interviews with Oklahoma Senators James Inhofe and James Lankford, as well as with the White House and the Department of Justice, Jones was selected as a nominee in July 2019.  Jones was officially nominated on October 17, 2019.

Political Activity

Jones’ only political record is as a campaign worker for Democrat Tony Sanchez, who was running for the Governor of Texas in 2002.[5]

Legal Experience

Jones’ litigation experience before he became a judge was relatively brief, consisting of his stints in private practice between 2004 and 2008.  In this time, Jones tried two cases before a judge and one before a jury.  His sole jury trial involved a fraud case concerning commercial real estate, which ended in a jury verdict against Jones’ client.[6]

Jurisprudence

Jones has served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma since 2015, and served as a state court judge from 2012 to 2015.  In his time on the bench, Jones has presided over approximately twenty cases that proceeded to verdict or judgment.

State Court

As a state court judge between 2012 and 2015, Jones handled both civil and criminal matters under Oklahoma law.  In one notable case, Jones was asked to order the replaying of the last sixty-four seconds of a high school football match in response to an alleged poor call by a referee.[7]  Jones ultimately denied an injunction in the case, finding that plaintiffs could not meet the extraordinary burden needed before requiring court intervention into high school football matches.[8] 

U.S. Magistrate Judge

As a U.S. Magistrate Judge, Jones oversaw pretrial detention and settlement matters, as well as offering recommendations to district court judges on substantive rulings.  In one case, Jones recommended that a plaintiff’s civil rights claims concerning denial of medical treatment be dismissed, which was accepted by the district court.[9]  The Tenth Circuit, however, reversed the dismissal, finding that the district court had erred in not allowing the plaintiff to amend his complaint.[10]

Writings

Jones has only one published article to his name.  In 2008, Jones wrote an opinion piece in favor of stricter bans of public smoking.[12]  The piece countered arguments that such bans infringed on people’s freedom, stating:

“We agree that freedom is of utmost importance, but the freedom we seek is for the 75 percent of Oklahomans who do not smoke.”[13]

Overall Assessment

Despite his youth and relative lack of litigation experience as an attorney, Jones is still likely to be an uncontroversial nominee.  This is partially because he has extensive judicial experience, but it is also because Jones has not made any high-profile rulings and has avoided associations with controversial stances.  As such, Jones is poised to join the Western District.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Bernard Jones: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] See id. at 2.

[3] Sheila Stogsdill, Fallin Names District Judge, The Daily Oklahoman, Sept. 18, 2012.

[4] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Bernard Jones: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 44-45.

[5] See id. at 34.

[6] Nudeal Enters. LLC v. Founder’s Tower Condos., LLC, CJ-2007-2454 (Okla. Cty. Dist. Ct. Mar. 26, 2007).

[7] Indep. Sch. Dist. No. I-89 of Okla. Cnty., Okla. v. Okla. Secondary School Activities Ass’n, CV-2014-2235 (Okla. Cty. Dist. Ct. Dec. 11, 2014).

[8] Scott Wright, Key Points in Judge Bernard Jones’ Ruling to Deny Douglass’ Injunction Request, The Daily Oklahoman, Dec. 11, 2014.

[9] See Gray v. GEO Group, Inc., 727 F. App’x 940 (10th Cir. 2018).

[10] See id.

[11] Campbell v. Jones, No. CIV-13-926-R, 2015 WL 3971674 (W.D. Okla. Mar. 31, 2015).

[12] Bernard Jones, Don’t Forget Nonsmoker’s Rights, The Oklahoman, Apr. 5, 2008.

[13] Id.

Judge Barbara Jongbloed – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut

Barbara Jongbloed, a judge for Connecticut’s Superior Court since 2000, has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.  While Jongbloed is a registered Democrat, this is her second nomination by a Republican executive, having been tapped for state court by Gov. John Rowland.

Background

Jongbloed was born in Washington D.C. in 1959.  She earned her B.A. from Lawrence University in 1981 and her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1984.  After graduating law school, she clerked for U.S. District Judge T. Gilroy Daly, before joining Day Berry & Howard in Stamford, Connecticut.  In 1987, Jongbloed moved to the public sector as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, staying in the office for thirteen years, the last two as criminal chief.  In 2000, Jongbloed was nominated by Rowland to become a Superior Court Judge in New London, where she currently serves.

History of the Seat

Jongbloed was nominated to a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on October 15, 2019.  The vacancy opened on August 31, 2018, with Judge Alvin Thompson’s move to senior status.

In August 2018, Jongbloed applied for the judgeship with Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats.  They recommended Jongbloed to the White House in March 2019.  

Legal Career

Jongbloed’s primary experience before becoming a judge was as a federal prosecutor.  Over the thirteen years she was at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jongbloed tried 14 cases to verdict.  Jongbloed was co-counsel with fellow Connecticut federal judge Kari Dooley in the prosecution of Stewart Leonard, who was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison for embezzlement.[1]  She also prosecuted Greenwich Acupuncture Center and its owners for various forms of fraud.[2] 

Jurisprudence

Jongbloed has served as a Judge on the Connecticut Superior Court since 2000, when she was appointed by Republican Gov. John Rowland.  In the past 19 years, Jongbloed has presided over approximately 105 cases that have proceeded to verdict and judgment.  Among these, Jongbloed has not hesitated to issue long sentences in criminal cases where she deems it appropriate.  For example, she sentenced Dante Hughes, who shot a good samaritan who was attempting to intervene in a domestic dispute, to 50 years in prison.[3]  Similarly, she sentenced George Leinart to the mandatory sentence of life for capital felony for the death of a 15 year old girl,[4] and sentenced Mozzelle Brown to 56 years in prison for the murder of physicist Eugene Mallove.[5]  In fact, the two cases in which Jongbloed was reversed over her tenure as a judge, both involve rulings in favor of the prosecution which were overruled by the Connecticut Supreme Court.[6]

Overall Assessment

Jongbloed’s status as a Democrat nominated by Trump will likely be enough to satisfy partisans on either side to let her move through without a fight.  Nonetheless, setting aside party affiliation, Jongbloed has extensive experience both as an attorney and as a state court judge, which should quell concerns about her jurisprudence.


[1] See United States v. Stewart J. Leonard Sr., et al., 37 F.3d 32 (2d Cir. 1994).

[2] United States v. Greenwich Acupuncture Cntr., et al., No. 5:91CR00040 WE (D. Conn. 1991).

[3] State v. Dante Hughes: KNL-CR16-335957.

[4] Karen Florin, A ‘True Predator’ Removed From Society: Judge Sentences Leniart to Life in Cold-Case Murder, The Day, June 23, 2010.

[5] Karen Florin, Mozzelle Brown Sentenced to 58 Years For Mallove Murder, The Day, Jan. 6, 2015.

[6] Compare State v. Jean Jacques, 332 Conn. 271 (2019) and State v. Chihan Eric Chyung, 325 Conn. 236 (2017).

Judge Silvia Carreno-Coll – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico

Judge Silvia Carreno-Coll has extensive experience with litigation and with case management, as she currently serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge.  As such, she can be considered a fairly uncontroversial selection for a federal judgeship.

Background

Silvia Luisa Carreno-Coll was born in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic in 1963.  Carreno-Coll received her B.A. cum laude from Emerson College in 1983 and his J.D. from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law in 1986.[1]  After graduating, Carreno-Coll joined the Federal Litigation Division of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.  In 1989, she became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.[2]

In 1995, Carreno-Coll became Associate Regional Counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency in San Juan.[3]  She held that position until her appointment as a federal magistrate judge in 2011.[4]

History of the Seat

Carreno-Coll has been nominated for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.  This seat opened when Judge Jay Garcia-Gregory moved to senior status on September 30, 2018.  

In August 2018, Carreno-Coll was contacted by Resident Commissioner Jennifer Gonzalez to gauge her interest in a federal judgeship.[5]  Carreno-Coll was selected as the primary candidate for the vacancy after interviews with the White House in June and July of 2019.

Legal Experience

Carreno-Coll has spent her entire career in the public sector, starting with her work with the Attorney General’s Office, where she defended police departments in 1983 and civil rights suits.  Similarly, in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she was responsible for defending federal officers against Bivens suits alleging violations of constitutional rights.  However, Carreno-Coll also brought affirmative civil actions seeking to remove houseboats that were obstructing movement in navigable waters.[6] 

From 1995 to 2011, Carreno-Coll worked for the EPA seeking to remedy violations of environmental laws.  For example, Carreno-Coll prosecuted Braulio Agosto Motors, Inc. for intentionally discharging raw sewage into the Espiritu Santo River.[7]

Jurisprudence

Since 2011, Carreno-Coll has served as a full-time U.S. Magistrate Judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.  During his career, Carreno-Coll has presided over 15 cases that have proceeded to verdict or judgment.[8] 

Among the most notable cases he handled, Carreno-Coll presided over the jury trial arising from a car crash, which resulted in a $6 million jury verdict for the plaintiff.[9]  She also presided over an action in diversity arising from damages from a dog bite, which also ended in a verdict for the plaintiff.[10]

Overall Assessment

Nominations to the District of Puerto Rico have rarely brought the same degree of partisan fervor as those to other courts.  Judge Carreno-Coll’s nomination is unlikely to be any different.  Given her extensive experience, she will likely get bipartisan support.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Silvia Carreno-Coll: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] See id. 

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 36.

[6] United States v. Members of the State of Luis Boothby, 16 F.3d 19 (1st Cir. 1994).

[7] See United States v. Braulio Agosto, et al., 617 F.3d 541 (1st Cir. 2010).

[8] See Carreno-Coll, supra n. 1 at 11.

[9] See Quiles-Velar v. Ox Bodies, Inc., 823 F.3d 712 (1st Cir. 2016).

[10] See Correa-Zayas v. Miranda Menchaca, et al., No. CV-15-1585 (D.P.R.).

John Gallagher – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

John Gallagher, the head of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Allentown, is the Trump Administration’s latest nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.    

Background

John Michael Gallagher was born in Queens, NY in 1966.  He attended the Long Island University, getting his B.S. in 1989 and a J.D. from NYU Law School in 1994.[1]  While in Law School, Gallagher worked as a Police Officer in Harlem, NY.

After graduating, Gallagher worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office.[2]  He then joined the New York City Police Department as a Special Prosecutor before moving to the Philadelphia Police Department as Special Counsel to the Police Commissioner.[3] 

In 2000, Gallagher became a White House Fellow in the Clinton White House, working as Counsel for Attorneys General Janet Reno and John Ashcroft.[4]  He then became a federal prosecutor in Albuquerque, NM and Assistant Chief of Police in Miami before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.[5]  In 2014, he became Chief of the Allentown Division of the office.

History of the Seat

Gallagher has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  This seat opened on October 9, 2018, when Judge Joel Slomsky moved to senior status.  

In September 2018,  Gallagher applied for and interviewed with the Judicial Nomination Advisory Panel for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  Gallagher then interviewed with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa), and the White House before being nominated.

Legal Experience

Gallagher has spent virtually his entire legal career as either a prosecutor or working for the police.  In the latter capacity, Gallagher worked with police departments on issues of training, civil rights, and public relations.  For example, Gallagher worked with the Philadelphia Police Department to develop policies against racial profiling in traffic stops.[6]  He also countered claims by activists and protesters that they suffered police abuse during the 2000 Republican National Convention.[7]

As a federal prosecutor, Gallagher has prosecuted a number of high profile cases.  For example, Gallagher prosecuted Kiboni Savage for the firebombing death of the family of an informant who was testifying against him, securing the death penalty against Savage.[8]

Overall Assessment

Given the bipartisan support he has received from his home state senators and his relatively apolitical background, Gallagher should sail to confirmation.  While he may receive some questions regarding his work with the police, such questions are unlikely to derail what would otherwise be an uncontroversial nomination.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., John M. Gallagher.: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] Id. 

[4] Id.

[5] Id. at 3.

[6] See Michael Rubinkam, Lawmakers Call For Racial Breakdown on People Stopped By Police, A.P. State & Local Wire, May 27, 1999.

[7] See Bill Johnson, Little Proof of Activists’ Claims of Police Abuse, A.P. State & Local Wire, Aug. 20, 2000.

[8] See Peter Hall, Allentown Federal Prosecutor Nominated to Fill Federal Judgeship Serving Lehigh Valley, Morning Call, Aug. 28, 2019, https://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-nws-lehigh-valley-federal-judge-nomination-20190828-esm77yajyrftpaeqonoys5m45m-story.html.  

Sherri Lydon – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina

The J. Waites Waring Judicial Center in Charleston, SC

Sherri Lydon has not only the distinction of being the first female U.S. Attorney to be confirmed for the District of South Carolina, but also of being the first Trump-era U.S. Attorney to be nominated for a federal judgeship.

Background

Lydon was born Cheryl Darlene Allen on Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in 1962.  She received a B.A. from Clemson College in 1983 and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1987.  Upon graduation, Lydon was hired by the Columbia firm of Nexsen, Pruet, Jacobs & Pollard as an Associate.[1] 

In 1990, Lydon joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.  She left in 1993 to return to private practice.  In 2003, Lydon joined the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office as Chief for the State Grand Jury.[2]

In 2005, Lydon reopened her own law practice in Columbia, where she stayed until she was appointed as U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina in 2018.

History of the Seat

The seat Lydon has been nominated for opened on September 4, 2018, with Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum’s elevation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  In June 2019, Lydon was contacted by Sen. Tim Scott to gauge her interest in a federal judgeship.[3]  After Lydon confirmed her interest, she was recommended by Scott and Sen. Lindsay Graham to the White House.

Legal Experience

Lydon has primarily spent her career in criminal law, alternating between working as a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney.  Over the course of her career, Lydon has tried approximately fifteen cases to verdict.  

Lydon’s time as a prosecutor is obviously capped by her current position as U.S. Attorney, a position she got over the frontrunner possibly due to his more liberal position on cannabis.[4]  However, even before she became U.S. Attorney, Lydon made a name for herself as a prosecutor on Operation Lost Trust, a corruption probe.[5]  Lydon also prosecuted Earle Morris, the former Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, for violations of state securities laws.[6]

As a criminal defense attorney, Lydon notably represented Lexington County Sheriff James Metts who faced criminal charges for bribery.[7]  While representing Metts, Lydon managed to negotiate a no-prison-sentence plea deal with prosecutor Jay Richardson (now on the Fourth Circuit), which was rejected by Judge Terry Wooten.[8]  Metts ultimately plead guilty and spent less than a year in jail.[9]

Overall Assessment

As an experienced prosecutor with extensive experience on the defense side as well, Lydon would be well-prepared to handle the criminal side of being a federal judge.  While senators may question the extent of her civil experience, Lydon would likely overcome that hurdle on the way to a comfortable confirmation.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Sherri A. Lydon: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 2.

[2] Id.

[3] Id. at 35.

[4] See Meg Kinnard, SC Prosecutor Contender at Odds With Feds on Medical Pot, Ass. Press State & Local, Mar. 18, 2017.

[5] See id.

[6] See Ben Werner, Former South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Sentenced to 44 Months, The State, Nov. 20, 2004.

[7] See Meg Kinnard, SC Sheriff Pleads Not Guilty to Bribery Charges, A.P. State & Local Wire, July 1, 2014.

[8] Jeffrey Collins, Judge Rejects Ex-Lexington Sheriff’s Plea Deal, A.P. State & Local Wire, Dec. 17, 2014.

[9] Former Sheriff Headed to Prison to Donate Political Money, A.P. State & Local Wire, May 3, 2015.

Prof. Richard Myers – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina is home to one of the longest vacancies in the country, having opened in December of 2005.  Since then, conflicts between senators and the White House have kept this seat vacant through four presidential terms.  Now, Richard Myers, a professor with the University of North Carolina, is the fifth nominee to fill this vacancy.

Background

Richard Earnest Myers was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and grew up in Wilmington, NC.[1]  Myers attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and then became a reporter with the Star-News in Wilmington.  In 1995, Myers joined the University of North Carolina School of Law, graduating with high honors in 1998.  

After graduating, Myers clerked for Judge David Sentelle (a North Carolina native) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then became an Associate with O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles.  In 2002, Myers became a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and later with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

In 2004, Myers joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina Law School, where he is currently a professor.

History of the Seat

Myers has been nominated for the longest pending federal judicial vacancy.  This seat opened on December 31, 2005, when Judge Malcolm J. Howard moved to senior status.  In 2006, President George W. Bush nominated Thomas Farr, but, Farr’s nomination stalled after Democrats took control of the Senate after the 2006 elections.  After Farr’s unsuccessful nomination expired in 2008, President Barack Obama and newly elected Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) did not renominate Farr.  Instead, in July 2009, Hagan submitted a list of three new candidates, Superior Court Judges Allen Cobb and Quentin Sumner, and federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker, to the Administration.[2]  Republican Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) submitted his own letter endorsing Cobb and May-Parker.[3]  However, despite the joint endorsements, Obama did not nominate a judge during his first term.

On June 20, 2013, Obama finally nominated May-Parker to fill the vacancy.[4]  However, Burr reversed his prior support for May-Parker, blocking her nomination by refusing to return a blue slip.[5]  Without Burr’s support, May-Parker did not receive a hearing, and her nomination died at the end of the 113th Congress.

On April 28, 2016, President Obama nominated Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a former justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court, to fill the vacancy.[6]  Timmons-Goodson’s nomination drew immediate opposition from Burr, who refused to support her.[7]  As a result, she was never confirmed.

On July 13, 2017, President Trump renominated Farr for the vacancy,[8] this time with the support of Burr and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC).[9]  However, Farr’s nomination stalled on the Senate floor and was withdrawn due to lack of majority support when Republican Senators Tim Scott and Jeff Flake expressed their opposition based on Farr’s work with Sen. Jesse Helms at the time when the Senator worked to suppress African American votes in North Carolina.[10]  After Republicans picked up two seats in the 2018 Senate elections and Flake left the chamber, conservatives pushed to renominate Farr.[11]  However, Scott maintained his opposition and the White House decided not to move forward, instead choosing Myers.

Legal Experience

Before becoming a law professor, Myers has primarily worked in two legal positions: the first is as an Associate with O’Melveny & Myers; the second is as a federal prosecutor in two districts, the Central District of California and the Eastern District of North Carolina.  At O’Melveny, Myers worked in the White Collar Criminal Law and Environmental and Regulatory Compliance Practice Group.  At the firm, Myers most notably represented Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos scientist charged with stealing government secrets.[12]

Writings

As an academic, Myers has written extensively on the law, particularly focusing on criminal law and procedure, which is his area of expertise.

Prosecutorial Power

Myers has been particularly vocal on the growing power of prosecutors in the criminal justice system, speaking on the subject frequently in media.[13]  Myers has noted that this concentration of power can mean that the criminal justice system can be “held hostage” by rogue prosecutors.[14]  Myers’ work on this regard has been cited by African American journalist and author Ta-Nehisi Coates.[15] 

On a similar note, Myers has also criticized the American criminal justice system for making it difficult to “expand liberty” by repealing unjust or outdated criminal laws and penalties.[16]  Instead, Myers suggests that a constitutional amendment be passed that sunsets all criminal laws to expire after a period of twenty-five years unless renewed.[17]  Myers suggests that the proposed amendment would better reflect changes in society and would create a “pro-liberty bias” within criminal law.[18]

Fourth Amendment and the Exclusionary Rule

Myers has also written extensively on the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.  In particular, Myers is a critic of the “exclusionary rule,” which requires that any evidence obtained through an illegal search be excluded from a criminal prosecution.  In one paper, Myers writes that the exclusionary rule only comes into play when evidence is found through the illegal searches, thus, ensuring that judges see only “guilty people trying to enforce their rights.”[19] 

Instead, Myers advocates for a separate court that oversees the executive branch’s searches and hears from victims of illegal searches who are both innocent and guilty of the underlying offenses.[20]  Myers notes:

“We need a new range of remedies because, to an important segment of the populace, the exclusionary rule clearly benefits the guilty, while providing such an attenuated benefit to the innocent in the form of deterrence that it extracts a high price from the system in terms of perceived legitimacy.”[21]

Political Activity

Myers is a Republican, and a member of the Federalist Society and the National Rifle Association.  However, his only political contribution of record was a $250 contribution in 2016 to Rep. George Holding.[22] 

Overall Assessment

Given how long this seat has sat vacant, and the number of nominees who have fallen by the wayside in the attempt to fill it, one can start to wonder if this seat is cursed.  However, if there is a nominee primed to end this “curse,” it is Myers.  Not only does Myers, as a African American attorney, not attract the same degree of opposition that Farr did, but his record should win him bipartisan approval.  In fact, Myers’ criminal justice jurisprudence largely accords with that of many liberals in its criticism of prosecutorial power and overcriminalization.

This is not to say that Myers will be a liberal on the bench.  He will likely be a conservative voice.  However, his criminal justice jurisprudence may well end up surprising many who thought they could pigeonhole the nominee, and despite being a former prosecutor, defense attorneys may well have a friend in Myers.


[1] AP, Trump Nominates Law Professor for Judicial Vacancy, Associated Press, Aug. 15, 2019, https://www.apnews.com/858d3a46c016451cad351b24eb1cc292.  

[2] Hagan Looks to Split U.S. Attorney Job, WRAL.com, July 10, 2009, http://www.wral.com/news/local/politics/story/5547659/.

[3] Letter from Richard Burr, North Carolina Senior Senator, to Barack Obama, The President of the United States (July 21, 2009) (on file at http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/Burrletter.pdf).

[4] Press Release, White House, President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Three to Serve on the United States District Court (June 20, 2013) (on file at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov).  

[5] Jennifer Bendery & Sam Stein, Richard Burr Blocks Judicial Nominee After Recommending Her to Obama, Huffington Post, Jan. 8, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/richard-burr-judicial-nominee_n_4563083.html.

[6] Press Release, White House, President Obama Nominates Eight to Serve on the United States District Courts (April 28, 2016) (on file at https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov).  

[7] Anne Blythe, Burr Vows to Block Obama Nomination to NC Federal Court Seat, The News & Observer, April 28, 2016, http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article74534012.html.

[8] Press Release, President Donald J. Trump Announces Fifth Wave of Judicial Candidates (July 13, 2017) (on file at www.whitehouse.gov/thepressoffice).

[9] Press Release, Burr and Tillis Welcome Nomination of Thomas Myers as District Judge for Eastern North Carolina (July 13, 2017) (on file at www.burr.senate.gov/press/releases).

[10] Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, Tim Scott Sinks Trump Judicial Nominee, Politico, Nov. 29, 2018, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/29/senate-confirms-farr-judicial-nominee-1027236.  

[11] Emma Dumain, SC’s Tim Scott Still Opposes Thomas Farr, Has Sharp Words for Conservative Critics, McClatchy DC, Jan. 30, 2019, https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/congress/article225279815.html.  

[12] James Sterngold, Lee’s Dream Team High on Case, Low on Compensation; The Lawyers, Largely Unpaid, Say They’ve Become Fond of Los Alamos Scientist, Contra Costa Times, Sept. 11, 2000.

[13] See, e.g., Richard A. Oppel, Jr., Sentencing Shift Gives New Clout to Prosecutors, N.Y. Times, Sept. 26, 2011.

[14] See id. (quoting Richard E. Myers).

[15] See Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Collapse of American Criminal Justice, Atlantic Online, Sept. 26, 2011.

[16] Richard E. Myers II, Responding to the Time-Based Failures of the Criminal Law Through a Criminal Sunset Amendment, 49 B.C. L. Rev. 1327 (Nov. 2008).

[17] See id. at 1361-62.

[18] Id. at 1380.

[19] Richard E. Myers II, “The Exclusionary Rule: Is it On Its Way Out? Should It Be?”, 10 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 571, 577 (Spring 2013).

[20] Id. at 578.

[21] Id. at 585.

[22] Center for Responsive Politics, https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=richard+myers&cycle=&state=NC&zip=&employ=&cand= (last visited Sept. 27, 2017).  

Daniel Traynor – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota

Dan Traynor, a longtime North Dakota Republican, had set his sight on a judicial appointment in the Trump Administration, and, after having been passed over previously, has now been picked for the District Court in North Dakota.

Background

Daniel Mack Traynor was born in Devils Lake, North Dakota in 1970, the son of longtime state senator John T Traynor.  Traynor graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1994 and then attended the University of North Dakota Law School, graduating with distinction in 1997.[1]

After graduating, Traynor clerked for Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle on the North Dakota Supreme Court and then started a solo practice, which he still maintains.  Traynor has also worked as the City Attorney of Devil’s Lake since 1998.

History of the Seat

While Traynor has been tapped for a seat expected to open with the retirement of Judge Daniel Hovland on November 10, 2019, his name was previously under consideration for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.[2]  However, Traynor was not nominated for that seat, which went to U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson.  Traynor was also passed over for the seat that Erickson vacated, but has now been tapped for Hovland’s seat.

Legal Experience

Traynor has primarily worked for himself in his hometown of Devil’s Lake, working on personal injury cases on both the plaintiff’s and defendant’s side.  Over the course of his career, Traynor has tried fifteen cases before a jury.  Among those, Traynor represented the defendant in a trial for “timber trespass” for the defendant’s cutting down of trees on the plaintiff’s property.[3] 

Among his other notable cases, Traynor defended the Norman Lutheran Church in Kindred, ND against  a suit brought by disgruntled parishioners who opposed the Church’s use of homosexual clergy.[4]  He also prosecuted, after an appointment from Gov. Doug Burgam, Ward County Sheriff Steven Kukowski after the death of an inmate in his jail facility.[5] 

Political Activity

Traynor is a Republican and has a long history with the North Dakota branch of the party, including having served as the Chairman from 2001 to 2003.[6]  Interestingly, as a Party delegate in the 1990s, Traynor pushed back against resolutions against same-sex marriage and supporting “parental rights.”[7]  Traynor has also served as Chair of the North Dakota chapter of the Republican National Lawyers Association since 2000, as well as being active within the American Bar Association (ABA).

Overall Assessment

The District of North Dakota is one of only three districts in the country that have just two active judgeships attached.  It’s already seen a fair amount of turnover with Ericksen’s elevation and replacement with Peter Welte.  With a largely mainstream record, Traynor looks favored to join the bench without too much controversy.


[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 116th Cong., Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees: Daniel Mack Traynor 1.

[2] See David Lat, More Judicial Nominations From the Trump Administration, Above the Law, May 8, 2017, https://abovethelaw.com/2017/05/more-judicial-nominations-from-the-trump-administration/.  

[3] Haider v. Moen, Ward County Civil No. 51-2014-CV-00890.

[4] Grabanski v. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, et al., Cass County Civil No. 09-2016-CV-00022.

[5] Jill Schramm, Kukowski’s Criminal and Civil Cases May Be Settled, The Bismarck Tribune, Apr. 12, 2017.

[6] See Traynor, supra n. 1 at 28.

[7] Compare John MacDonald, It’s No to Tax Hikes, Bismarck Tribune, Mar. 29, 1996, with Frederic Smith, GOP Panel OKs ‘Parental Rights,’ Bismarck Tribune, Mar. 30, 1996.