Anne Rachel Traum – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada

Anne Rachel Traum, a law professor with the University of Nevada, was nominated for a federal judgeship in the waning days of the Obama Administration but was never confirmed. Traum now has a second chance to join the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

Background

Anne Rachel Traum was born in 1969 in Redwood City, California. Traum graduated from Brown University in 1991 and from the University of California Hastings College of Law in 1996.

After graduation, Traum clerked for Judge Stanwood Duval on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and then joined the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Traum then spent two years as a federal prosecutor before becoming a public defender in Las Vegas. Since 2008, Traum has worked as a law professor with the University of Nevada Las Vegas William S. Boyd School of Law.

History of the Seat

Traum has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. This seat opened on February 1, 2016, when Judge Robert Clive Jones moved to senior status.

On April 28, 2016, Traum had been nominated by President Barack Obama to replace Jones, but her nomination was never considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee and was not confirmed before the end of the Obama Presidency. Throughout his Presidency, Trump never nominated a judge to replace Jones and the seat remains vacant to this day.

Legal Career

Traum started her legal career at the Department of Justice, where she worked on issues of Indian and environmental law, as well as a detail with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada, where she worked in the civil division on both affirmative and defensive cases. Additionally, from 2002 to 2008, Traum worked as a federal public defender, and has worked as a law professor since 2008. Throughout her career, Traum has tried one criminal jury trial and one habeas bench trial.

Among the notable cases she handled, Traum represented a defendant serving a 52-year sentence on a habeas petition. See Mitchell v. State, 149 P.3d 33 (Nev. 2006). Traum was able to obtain a vacatur of Mitchell’s conviction for attempted murder and his release from prison, arguing that a conviction for attempted murder required proof of a specific intent to kill. See id.

Writings

As a law professor, Traum has written multiple papers on criminal law and procedure. In particular, Traum has been fairly critical of the Supreme Court’s narrowing of Confrontation Clause protections in Ohio v. Clark, which allowed evidence of a 3-year-old’s testimony to be introduced against a defendant. See, e.g., Anne Traum, Confrontation after Ohio v. Clark, Nevada Lawyer, Oct. 1, 2015. Traum has noted that the Clark decision could eliminate a defendant’s confrontation rights in a variety of cases.

In another paper, Traum advocated that judges should consider the systemic impact of mass incarceration in making individual sentencing determinations. See Anne R. Traum, Mass Incarceration at Sentencing, 64 Hastings L.J. 423 (2013). In doing so, Traum argues that judges can mitigate the effects of mass incarceration.

Overall Assessment

While Traum’s last nomination to a federal judgeship was unsuccessful, put forward under a Democratic Senate, Traum is likely to be confirmed early next year barring unexpected developments. Any opposition to her opposition will likely point to her academic writings in arguing that Traum has been unduly critical of the criminal justice system and Supreme Court jurisprudence.