Victoria Calvert – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

A federal defender based in Atlanta, Victoria Calvert’s nomination continues the trend of public defenders being nominated for the federal bench under President Biden.


Victoria Marie Calvert got a B.A. from Duke University in 2003 and then attended the New York University Law School, graduating in 2006. Following her graduation, Calvert spent six years at King and Spalding in Atlanta where she worked in the Special Matters and Government Investigations group. Since 2012, Calvert has worked for the Federal Defender in Atlanta.

History of the Seat

Calvert has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. This seat was vacated on May 8, 2021, when Judge Thomas Thrash moved to senior status.

Legal Experience

Calvert spent the first six years at the Atlanta office of King and Spalding. While her work here was largely focused on investigations and white collar defense, Calvert also participated in the firm’s pro bono program. For example, Calvert was part of the legal team for Nicholas Bryant, who challenged the death sentence he received for murder during an armed robbery. See Bryant v. State, 288 Ga. 876 (2011). The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the death sentence, finding that the trial court allowed inadmissible victim impact testimony regarding the nature of the crime itself. Id. at 896-97.

Since 2012, Calvert has worked as a federal defender, in which role she represents indigent defendants in the federal criminal justice system. Among the clients she represented, Calvert argued on behalf of her client, Santas Hernandez, that evidence obtained from a legally dubious traffic stop should be suppressed. The District Court agreed that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation, but found a Terry stop could be justified through the “collective knowledge” doctrine indicating that the Defendant was engaging in prostitution. See United States v. Hernandez, 17 F. Supp. 3d 1255 (N.D. Ga. 2014). Calvert also unsuccessfully challenged her client’s conviction for discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, arguing that assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon did not qualify as a predicate crime of violence. See United States v. Bates, 960 F.3d 1278 (11th Cir. 2020).

Overall Assessment

Calvert’s youth and experience as a public defender is a recognition of President Biden’s new emphasis on drawing judges from the pool of indigent defenders. While her background doesn’t mean that Calvert is likely to rule any differently on the bench, it is nonetheless likely to draw opposition. The fact that Calvert was nominated and remains likely to be confirmed is a testament to the impact of the Georgia runoff elections on the federal judiciary.

Sarah Geraghty – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

A civil rights attorney based in Atlanta, Sarah Geraghty has spent much of her career litigating to reform criminal justice institutions in Georgia.


Sarah Elizabeth Geraghty got a B.A. from Northwestern University in 1996, a Master in Social Work from the University of Michigan School of Social Work in 1998 and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1999. Following law school, Geraghty clerked for Judge James Zagel on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and then spent a year with the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York. Since 2003, Geraghty has worked for the Southern Center for Human Rights, managing their Impact Litigation Unit from 2015 to 2020.

History of the Seat

Geraghty has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. This seat was vacated on April 3, 2021, when Judge Amy Totenberg moved to senior status.

Legal Experience

While Geraghty started her career at the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York, she has spent the vast majority of her career at the Southern Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit organization focused on civil rights litigation on behalf of those in the criminal justice system. Early in her tenure with the Center, Geraghty sued the state of Georgia to force changes in the Lee Arrendale State Prison, where inmates were repeatedly subjected to physical and sexual violence. See Carlos Campos, Prison Shake-Up to Protect Youth; State to Make Alto Mostly for Women, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 19, 2004. In a different case, Geraghty successfully obtained a ruling preventing a Clinch County sheriff from charging inmates for room and board. Carlos Campos, Clinch County Inmates No Longer Charged Room and Board, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Apr. 18, 2006.

Notably, Geraghty filed a lawsuit against a Georgia law that increased restrictions on the movement, employment, and residence of convicted sex offenders. See Jill Young Miller, Tougher Law For Sex Offenders Under Fire; Human Rights Groups Challenge Restrictions, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 20, 2006. As a result of her suit, the law was enjoined by U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper. See Jill Young Miller, Sex Offender Evictions Put on Hold, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 29, 2006. The law’s residency requirement, which barred sex offenders from living within 1000 feet of anywhere that children congregate, was also thrown out by the Georgia Supreme Court in a separate suit. See Rhonda Cook, Bill Rankin, No More Eviction for Sex Offenders; State’s High Court Says They Can Reside Legally in Areas Near Children, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nov. 22, 2007. Geraghty later discussed the litigation and the issues with the law in a 2007 law review article. See Sarah Geraghty, Residency Restrictions on Sex Offenders: Challenging the Banishment of Registered Sex Offenders From the State of Georgia: A Practitioner’s Perspective, 42 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 513 (Summer 2007).

Among other matters, Geraghty successfully challenged child support judgments against Frank Hatley, a South Georgia man who was not the biological father of the child he was ordered to support. Bill Rankin, State Moves to Cancel Bill to Non-Dad It Had Jailed, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 25, 2009. Geraghty also filed a class action suit on behalf of indigent parents jailed for missing child support payments, arguing that they should have appointed counsel. Bill Rankin, Child Support Lawsuit Gets Class-Action Status, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 4, 2012. The plaintiffs ultimately lost 6-1 before the Georgia Supreme Court. Richard Halicks, Georgia Supreme Court; Child Support Inmates Lose Case, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 12, 2014.

Writings and Statements

As part of her role at the Southern Center for Human Rights, Geraghty has frequently spoken and commented on the law. We have summarized some of her statements and writings below.

Prison Violence

Geraghty has spoken out on the need to better control violence in the prison system. For example, Geraghty called out officials who treated prison violence as inevitable, stating:

“It’s an attitude of ‘boys will be boys’ and that’s an attitude that I find very disturbing when we’re talking about the safety of young children.” See Carlos Campos, Surviving Behind Bars: Violence Stalks Young Men in Alto Prison, Critics Say, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aug. 8, 2004 (quoting Sarah Geraghty).

In a later article, Geraghty criticized prisons for failing to adequately maintain door locks, leading to the deaths of four prisoners. See Aaron Gould Sheinin, Rhonda Cook, AJC Investigation: Faulty Locks Plague Prisons Across Georgia, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 2, 2013.

Probation Reform

Geraghty has been vocal on the issue of reform of the private probation industry, speaking out, for example, against efforts to shield industry data from the public. See Rhonda Cook, Heat Turned Up on Probation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 19, 2014. Geraghty has also been critical of the companies’ reliance on fees from the parolees they supervise. See Carrie Teegarden, Probation Companies Facing Slate of Reforms, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 1, 2015. Geraghty has also criticized the handling of probation by private companies, stating:

“The concept of privatized probation is fundamentally at odds with the fair administration of justice.” See Rhonda Cook, Private Probation Firm Settles Suits For $2M, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb. 4, 2017.

Geraghty’s comments on private probations are consistent with her more broadly expressed views about the need for reform of criminal justice institutions in the South. See Sarah Geraghty and Melanie Velez, Bringing Transparency and Accountability to Criminal Justice Institutions in the South, 22 Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 455 (2011).

Public Defender

Geraghty has also testified and spoken on the provision of counsel for the indigent. In 2015, Geraghty testified against a bill that would eliminate some of the minimum standards for indigent counsel. See Bill Rankin, Public Defender Reforms At Risk, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 2, 2015.

Political Activity

Geraghty has made two political contributions, both to Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams in 2018.

Overall Assessment

Having spent much of her career litigating to reform the criminal justice system, Geraghty would bring an unusual perspective to a bench dominated by veterans of that system. It is likely that her career and strongly expressed views will draw questions and opposition. Whether Geraghty manages to overcome those barriers and join the bench rests largely on the durability of her support in the Democratic caucus.

Steven Grimberg – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

A former prosecutor focused on economic crimes, Steven Grimberg currently serves in an unusual capacity for a judicial nominee, as General Counsel for a global investigations firm.


Steven Daniel Grimberg was born in New York City in 1974.[1]  After getting an B.A. from the University of Florida in 1995, Grimberg attended Emory University Law School, graduating in 1998.  Following his graduation, Grimberg spent a year at Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox LLP in Dallas, three years at Muller Mintz P.A. in Miami, and three years at Hunton & Williams in Atlanta.[2]

In 2005, Grimberg joined the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. as a trial attorney in the Tax Division.  In 2010, he moved to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia to be Deputy Chief of the Economic Crimes Division under then U.S. Attorney Sally Yates.[3]

In 2018, Grimberg became General Counsel at Nardello & Co, a global investigations firm.

History of the Seat

Grimberg has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.  This seat was vacated on December 1, 2018, when Judge Richard Story moved to senior status.  Grimberg had applied with the Georgia senators for the vacancy that opened with Judge William Duffey’s move to senior status, but was not selected for that seat.[4]  However, in October 2018, when Story announced his intention to take senior status, the White House began vetting Grimberg.[5]  Grimberg was nominated on April 2, 2019.

Legal Experience

While Grimberg began his legal career in private practice, he has spent the most critical portion of his career as a prosecutor.  As a federal prosecutor, Grimberg prosecuted Becky McCord, a Georgia Superior Court clerk, of stealing $134,000 in fees and funds.[6]  He also prosecuted Annamalai Annamalai, a self-proclaimed spiritual leader who defrauded much of the Georgian Hindu community through fraudulent credit card transactions, which he used to finance a lavish lifestyle.[7]

Since 2018, Grimberg has served as General Counsel for the Americas at Nardello & Co, a global investigations firm.  In this role, Grimberg serves as the primary legal guide for the firm, which conducts investigations on behalf of law firms and financial institutions.

Political Activity

Grimberg is a member of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy.[8]  He has also donated to the Presidential campaign of Sen. Marco Rubio.[9]


In 2018, Grimberg co-authored a paper with former FBI Agent Mark Ray discussing cybersecurity measures that should be taken by corporations.[10]  The article suggested that corporations should conduct a cybersecurity assessment to determine their level of vulnerability to a data breach and then implement and test incident response plans to respond to such data breaches.[11]

Overall Assessment

While Grimberg’s current position in house with an investigations firm is unusual for a judicial nominee, his background as a prosecutor is not.  Grimberg is now the third (of four) Trump nominee to the Northern District with prosecutorial experience.  If confirmed, Grimberg is expected to add another conservative voice to that court.

[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong., Steven Grimberg: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] Id.

[4] That nomination went to State Judge J.P. Boulee.

[5] Id. at 37.

[6] Andria Simmons, Crime and Punishment; Court Clerk Accused of Fraud, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Apr. 27, 2011.

[7] United States v. Annamalai Annamalai, et al., No. 1:13-CR-00437-TCB-CMS (N.D. Ga.).

[8] See Grimberg, supra n. 1 at 7.

[9] Center for Responsive Politics, (last visited Apr. 29, 2019).  

[10] Steven Grimberg and Mark Ray, A Call to Action: Cybersecurity Due Diligence in Today’s Business Climate, 5 Emory Corp. Accountability Rev. 73 (2018).

[11] Id. at 75.

Judge J.P. Boulee – Nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Jones Day has generally been referred to as President Trump’s favorite law firm, given that they represented his campaign and many veterans have found spots in the Administration.  Additionally, a lot of Trump judicial nominees have Jones Day DNA.  J.P. Boulee, a state court judge tapped for the federal bench in Georgia is also a Jones Day alum.


Jean-Paul Boulee was born in Kankakee, IL in 1971.  Boulee graduated magna cum laude from Washington & Lee University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and continued on to UGA Law School graduating cum laude in 1996.[1]

After graduating, Boulee clerked for Judge Orinda Evans on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.  He then became a Judge Advocate with the U.S. Army, working for four years.

In 2001, Boulee joined the Atlanta Office of Jones Day as an Associate.[2]  He became a Partner in 2006.[3]  In 2015, Boulee was appointed by Republican Governor Nathan Deal to serve on the DeKalb County Superior Court to replace Judge Cynthia Becker.[4]  Boulee currently serves as a judge on that court.

In 2018, Boulee applied to fill vacancies on the Georgia Supreme Court created by Justice Britt Grant’s elevation to the Eleventh Circuit and Justice Harris Hines’ retirement.[5]  However, he withdrew his name upon nomination to the federal bench, and Sarah Hawkins Warren and Charlie Bethel were selected instead.

History of the Seat

The seat Boulee has been nominated for opened on July 1, 2018, with Judge William Duffey’s retirement.  In January 2018, Boulee applied for the vacancy with a Screening Committee set up by Georgia senators.  After interviewing with the Committee and the senators, Boulee was recommended to the White House in late March.  Boulee was nominated by the White House on August 28, 2018.

Legal Career

Boulee spent approximately fourteen years at the Atlanta office of Jones Day.  At the firm, Boulee focused on corporate, commercial litigation, and white collar defense.  Boulee also served in the JAG Corps of the U.S. Army, handling court-martials, both as a prosecutor and as a defense counsel.  As part of this latter duty, Boulee helped acquit a single mother accused of burning her child with a curling iron by explaining that the mother (who could not afford her heating bills) was using the iron under a blanket to help keep her son warm.[6]

Notably, while at Jones Day, Boulee represented Wilbur Ross (now the Secretary of Commerce) in a class action and derivative shareholder lawsuit challenging the merger of the International Textile Group and Safety Components International.[7]  Boulee worked on case strategy and the development of defense expert testimony for the case, which ultimately settled on the eve of trial.[8]


Boulee has served on the DeKalb County Superior Court since 2015, during which time, he presided over thirty-three jury trials, including twenty capital felonies.[9]  Notably, Boulee presided over the case of DeKalb County police officer Robert Olsen, who fatally shot Anthony Hill, an Afghanistan war veteran, who was “unarmed, unclothed and under severe mental duress.”[10]  Hill, who was African American, suffered from bipolar disorder, was nude and had his hands up when he was shot.[11]  While the officer argued that he had fired in self-defense, after Hill did not comply with instructions not to advance, Boulee declined to dismiss the murder charges, noting that the officer’s accounts had been inconsistent and that there was no evidence suggesting that Hill posed a threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officer.[12]

In his three years on the bench, Boulee has been reversed twice.[14]  In the first, Boulee was reversed for failing to grant a motion for a new trial to a defendant whose attorney had failed to request a relevant jury charge (Boulee found that the defendant had failed to show that the error had prejudiced him).[15]  In the second, Boulee was reversed for holding that a plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal without prejudice in response to a procedural defect barred the subsequent filing under the doctrine of res judicata.[16]

Political Activity

Boulee has been active with the Republican Party, maintaining membership in the Georgia Republican Party, the Republican National Lawyers Association, and other Republican groups until his ascension to the bench.[17]

Overall Assessment

Boulee’s record, both as an attorney and on the bench, reads as that of a moderate conservative.  However, it does not suggest that he is judicial activist or an extremist. To his credit, on a politically charged and sensitive case involving a police shooting, Boulee rejected the officer’s plea of self-defense where the evidence failed to support it.

As such, Boulee is unlikely to be a nominee that draws much partisan fire and will likely be confirmed early next year.

[1] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong., J.P. Boulee: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees 1.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] Id.

[4] See Mark Niesse, 2 DeKalb Judges Appointed By Gov. Deal, Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 12, 2015,–politics/dekalb-judges-appointed-gov-deal/FtMIOvcgZT0TXqpk6M0KVL/.  

[5] Nick Watson, Judge Deal Withdraws Name From Ga. Supreme Court Consideration, The Times, Gainesville Ga., Aug. 2, 2018.

[6] United States v. Boelter (1st Jud. Cir.).

[7] In re Int’l Textile Grp., Inc., Inc. Merger Litig., C.A. No. 2009-CP-23-3346 (S.C. Ct. Common Pleas). 

[8] See Boulee, supra n.1 at 45.

[9] Id. at 19-20.

[10] Christian Boone, AJC Digging Deeper Police Shooting; Case Shows Challenge of Prosecuting Police, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 18, 2018.

[11] See id.

[12] See Christian Boone, AJC Continuing Coverage Police Shooting; Ex-Cop Will Stand Trial For Shooting Unarmed Veteran, Aug. 17, 2018.

[13] See id. at 793.

[14] See Burns v. State, 803 S.E.2d 79 (Ga. Ct. App. 2017); Wentz v. Emory Healthcare, Inc., No. A18A0908, 2018 WL 4403345 (Ga. Ct. App. Sept. 17, 2018).

[15] Burns v. State, 803 S.E.2d 79 (Ga. Ct. App. 2017).

[16] Wentz v. Emory Healthcare, Inc., No. A18A0908, 2018 WL 4403345 (Ga. Ct. App. Sept. 17, 2018).

[17] See Boulee, supra n. 1 at 38.

Judge William Ray II – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Federal judges are often called upon to interpret laws and legislative history, and bring meaning to legislative ambiguities. So, it can be argued that the system benefits from judges with legislative experience.  As such, Judge William Ray, who has served as a legislator, a trial judge, and an appellate judge, brings a diverse set of experiences to the bench.


William McCrary Ray II was born in Macon, GA in 1963 to a family of active Democrats (Ray’s uncle was U.S. Rep. Richard Ray).[1]  Ray’s father, a farmer, was tragically murdered in a dispute with neighbors when Ray was 13.[2]  Ray went on to the University of Georgia, graduating in 1985 with a Bachelor of Business degree, and obtaining a Masters in Business the next year.  Ray continued on to UGA Law School graduating cum laude in 1990.

After graduating, Ray joined the Lawrenceville law firm Andersen, Davidson & Tate as an Associate working in civil litigation and family law.  In 1995, he became a partner at the firm.

In 1996, Ray won election to the Georgia State Senate with 69% of the vote, representing the 48th Senate District.[3]  He served in the State Senate for six years, serving on the Judiciary, Special Judiciary, Rules, Appropriations, Natural Resources, and Transportation Committees.  During his tenure, Ray helped pass Heidi’s law, which tightened penalties for repeat DUI offenders.[4]  In an interview, Ray noted that his experience with tragedy from his father’s murder spurred a commitment to victim’s rights, and made him a “proponent of capital punishment.”[5]

In 2002, Ray was appointed by Democratic Governor Roy Barnes to serve on the Gwinnett County Superior Court.[6]  Ray served in that capacity until 2012, when Republican Governor Nathan Deal elevated Ray to the Georgia Court of Appeals.[7]  Ray currently serves as a judge on that court.

History of the Seat

The seat Ray has been nominated for opened on March 31, 2017, with Judge Harold Lloyd Murphy’s move to senior status.[8]  Ray was nominated for the vacancy on July 13, 2017.[9]

Jurisprudence – Trial Judge

Ray spent approximately ten years as a trial judge in Gwinnett County, and another five years as an appellate judge.  As a trial judge, Ray served as presiding judge of the Gwinnett County drug treatment court, a program he helped found that allows drug offenders to have their convictions stricken.[10]

In 2006, Ray was drawn into a controversy involving budget cutbacks for indigent representation.  In response to rapidly depleting funds, the Georgia public defender council cut payments to private attorneys in capital cases from $125 an hour to $95 an hour.[11]  In response, Ray ordered state officials into his courtroom and probed the state’s obligation to pay for indigent defense.[12]  Further, he ordered the chief of the public defender council to turn over payment information for another expensive death penalty case, directly conflicting with an order from Judge Hilton Fuller to keep that information secret.[13]  The controversy resulted in a temporary halt on all capital cases as the state funding system ran out of money.[14]

Among other cases, Ray presided over the initial motions in the trial of Lisa Ann Taylor, the “Mansion Madam” who allegedly ran a house of prostitution in an exclusive Atlanta community.[15]  He also presided over the guilty plea of basketball star Al-Farouq Aminu, who had shot a woman with a BB gun.[16]  Ray sentenced Aminu to three years of probation, allowing him to attend college while on probation.[17]

Jurisprudence – Court of Appeals

During his five years on the Georgia Court of Appeals, Ray has established a conservative record on criminal issues.  Notably, Ray has voted to affirm criminal convictions against both procedural[18] and substantive[19] challenges.  For example, on Fourth Amendment challenges, Ray has upheld denials of motions to suppress,[20] and reversed grants of motion to suppress based on police misconduct.[21]  In one case, the trial court found that officers did not have probable cause to conduct a blood test on a driver suspected of driving under the influence.  Ray wrote for a 4-3 majority in reversing the decision.[22]  In dissent, Judge M. Yvette Miller argued that the majority failed to apply the proper level of deference to factual findings made by the trial court.[23]

In another decision, Ray wrote for a 5-2 majority in holding that a warrant application to obtain images of child pornography was supported by probable cause.[24]  The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously reversed Ray’s decision in an opinion by Judge Harold Melton, finding that the affidavit supporting the warrant application was “rife with issues.”[25]

On civil matters, Ray’s record is more mixed.  While he has shown a willingness to rule against plaintiffs,[26] he has also, on occasion ruled in their favor.[27]  Overall, Ray’s civil record does not suggest an undue bias towards either party in civil matters.

Political Activity

As noted above, Ray served as a Republican State Senator in Georgia for six years.  His only contribution of record is from 1996, when he gave Republican Clinton M. Day $500.[28]

Overall Assessment

Ray is a judicial conservative.  As such, he is far from an ideal candidate for the federal bench, as far as Senate Democrats are concerned.  That being said, it is to be expected that a Republican Administration will nominate conservative judges.  While Ray’s record is conservative, there are no smoking guns in his record to rally opposition around.  As such, Ray should expect a relatively smooth confirmation process, and Northern Georgia residents should expect a conservative addition to the federal bench.

[1] Greg Land, Federal Bench Nominee William Ray Hailed for Fairness, ‘Farm Boy Work Ethic’, Daily Report, July 17, 2017,

[2] Id.

[3] Lucy Soto, Special Section; Election ‘96: Georgia; Democrats Keep Control But GOP Gains, Atlanta Journal & Const., Nov. 6, 1996.

[4] See Land, supra n. 1.

[5] Doug Nurse, Legislator Spurred by Early Tragedy; Crime Victims Close to his Heart, Atlanta Journal & Const., Mar. 6, 1999.

[6] See Land, supra n. 1.

[7] Id.

[8] R. Robin McDonald, Approaching 90, Judge Harold Murphy to Take Senior Status, Daily Report, Jan. 6, 2017,

[9] Press Release, President Donald J. Trump Announces Fifth Wave of Judicial Candidates (July 13, 2017) (on file at

[10] George Chidi, Drug Offenders Get Second Chance, Atlanta Journal Const., Oct. 20, 2006.

[11] Bill Rankin, Lawyers for the Poor Get Pay Cut, Atlanta Journal Const., Dec. 2, 2006.

[12] George Chidi, Tight Budget Hits Capital Trials, Atlanta Journal Const., Dec. 6, 2006.

[13] Rhonda Cook, Nichols Case Stirs Judicial Standoff; One Judge Wants Financial Records that Another Sealed, Atlanta Journal Const., Feb. 27, 2007.

[14] Scott Freeman, Brian Nichols and Georgia’s Indigent Defense Crisis, Creative Loafing, Feb. 27, 2008,

[15] George Chidi, Sex Advice from ‘Mansion Madam’, Atlanta Journal Const., Aug. 14, 2007.

[16] Curtis Bunn, Hoops Star to Plead Guilty; Aminu Likely to Receive Probation, Atlanta Journal Const., Aug. 7, 2008.

[17] Andria Simmons, Ex-Norcross Star Can Attend College While on Probation, Atlanta Journal Const., Aug. 8, 2008.

[18] See, e.g., Jackson v. State, 782 S.E.2d 691 (Ga. App. 2016) (affirming denial of motion to suppress); State v. Fedrick, 763 S.E.2d 739 (Ga. App. 2014) (rev’ing grant of motion to suppress); Talton v. State, 749 S.E.2d 18 (Ga. App. 2013) (D knowingly waived right to jury trial).

[19] See, e.g., Fitzpatrick v. State, 793 S.E.2d 446 (Ga. App. 2016); Pippen v. State, 791 S.E.2d 795 (Ga. App. 2016); State v. Reid, 770 S.E.2d 665 (Ga. App. 2015) (rev’d grant of new trial); Harris v. State, 767 S.E.2d 747 (Ga. App. 2014).

[20] See Jackson v. State, 782 S.E.2d 691 (Ga. App. 2016); Shirley v. State, 765 S.E.2d 491 (Ga. App. 2014). But see Nichols v. State, 783 S.E.2d 918 (Ga. App. 2016) (rev’ing denial of motion to suppress).

[21] See State v. Wallace, 791 S.E.2d 187 (Ga. App. 2016); State v. Hasson, 778 S.E.2d 15 (Ga. App. 2015); State v. Fedrick, 763 S.E.2d 739 (Ga. App. 2014). But see State v. Camp, 782 S.E.2d 819 (Ga. App. 2016) (affirming grant of motion to suppress).

[22] State v. Hughes, 750 S.E.2d 789 (Ga. App. 2013).

[23] See id. at 793.

[24] Shirley v. State, 765 S.E.2d 491 (Ga. App. 2014).

[25] Shirley v. State, 777 S.E.2d 444, 446 (Ga. 2015).

[26] See, e.g., I.A. Group, Ltd. Co. et al. v. RmNandco, Inc., 784 S.E.2d 823 (Ga. App. 2016) (rev’g judgment to plaintiff); Moore-Waters et al. v. Met-Test, LLC., 782 S.E.2d 848 (Ga. App. 2016) (rev’ing grant of default judgment to plaintiff); Martin et al. v. Hansen, 755 S.E.2d 892 (Ga. App. 2014) (rev’ing denial of summary judgment to defendant); Askew et al. v. Rogers, 755 S.E.2d 836 (Ga. App. 2014) (rev’ing grant of summary judgment to plaintiff); Security Real Estate Servs. Inc. v. First Bank of Dalton, 752 S.E.2d 127 (Ga. App. 2013) (rev’ing denial of summary judgment to defendant).

[27] See, e.g., Teston et al. v. Southcore Constr. Inc., 783 S.E.2d 921 (Ga. App. 2016) (rev’ing grant of default judgment to defendant); Gomez v. Innocent et al., 746 S.E.2d 645 (Ga. App. 2013) (rev’ing grant of summary judgment to defendant); Deberry v. Johnson et al., 747 S.E.2d 886 (Ga. App. 2013) (rev’ing grant of summary judgment to defendant).

[28] Center for Responsive Politics, (last visited Sept. 10, 2017).  

Michael Lawrence Brown – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Third time’s the charm?  After two different Obama nominees were blocked from filling this Atlanta-based judgeship, the Trump Administration has put its hopes on a prominent white collar defense attorney: Michael Lawrence Brown.


Brown has close ties to Atlanta, having grown up there and attended the Marist school, an independent Catholic prep school.[1]  After getting an B.A. from Georgetown University in 1991, Brown attended the University of Georgia Law School, graduating in the Top 10% in 1994.  Following his graduation, Brown clerked for Judge J.L. Edmondson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

After his clerkship, Brown joined the Atlanta office of King & Spalding, LLC., coinciding with another Trump judicial nominee, Claria Horn Boom.  Brown spent four years at the firm, leaving in 1999 to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

In 2002, Brown was hired by then-U.S. Attorney William Duffey to be a federal prosecutor in the Northern District of Georgia.  He served in this role until 2005, when he moved to the Atlanta office of Alston & Bird.  He currently serves as a partner and the co-leader of the firm’s Government & Internal Investigations Team.

History of the Seat

Brown has been nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.  This seat was vacated on July 31, 2014, when Judge Julie Carnes was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  Twice, President Obama attempted unsuccessfully to fill this seat.  His first nominee was then-Georgia Court of Appeals judge (and current Georgia Supreme Court Justice) Michael Boggs.[2]  Boggs, a conservative Democrat, was part of a six judge package negotiated between the White House and Georgia’s Republican senators.  Unfortunately, while Boggs received a hearing with the other nominees from the package, he faced strong opposition from progressive groups, who objected to stances he had taken as a state senator.[3]  Ultimately, the Senate Judiciary Committee did not process Boggs’ nomination, and the White House abandoned the nomination.[4]

Facing a Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee, Obama nominated Judge Dax Eric Lopez of the State Court of Dekalb County on July 30, 2015.[5]  However, Lopez, a Latino Republican, drew sharp opposition from some Georgia conservatives for his participation in the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, a nonpartisan civic organization.[6]  Ultimately, Lopez’s nomination was blocked by Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who declined to return his blue slip.[7]

President Trump declined to renominate Lopez, instead nominating Brown on July 13, 2017.

Legal Experience

Brown began his legal career as a clerk for Judge J.L. Edmondson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  He followed this up by joining the Atlanta office of King & Spalding as an associate.  During his time there, Brown was part of a legal team representing a holding company in a legal malpractice action against its former attorneys.[8]  Brown also defended a furniture manufacturer against antitrust liability,[9] and served as court appointed counsel in a Bivens action against federal agents.[10]

In 1999, Brown moved to Florida to serve as an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA).  In 2002, he moved back to Atlanta to work as an AUSA in the Northern District of Georgia.  In this role, he was part of the legal team prosecuting Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis for drug charges in 2004.[11]  This case also drew criticism for Brown, as U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans found the charges “weak.”[12]  The felony charges were ultimately plead down to a single charge of using a cellphone to help facilitate a drug deal.[13]

In 2004, Brown moved to the Atlanta office of Alston & Bird, where he currently serves.  In that role, Brown developed a reputation for the vigorous defense of defendants accused of white-collar and corruption crimes.[14]  Notably, Brown represented Crawford Lewis, a former DeKalb County School Superintendent charged with public corruption and racketeering.[15]  Brown helped secure a probationary sentence for Lewis, who was facing up to 65 years in jail, in exchange for testimony against his co-defendants.[16]  When Judge Cynthia Becker, who was unimpressed with the deal, sentenced Lewis to prison anyway, Brown “flooded Becker’s office with calls and emails asking for bond.”[17]  The Georgia Court of Appeals eventually granted the bond request and Becker was struck from the bench for her conduct in the case.

Brown also represented Tyler Peters, a bond trader who was ultimately acquited of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud charges.[18]  Brown has also handled antitrust matters including representing automobile safety manufacturer Autoliv Inc.

Political Activity

Brown has been fairly active as a political donor, having contributed to former Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss and current Senator David Perdue.[19]  In 2012, Brown contributed a total of $3600 to Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy.  More recently, Brown contributed $1000 to the Right to Rise PAC, which supported the presidential campaign of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  While most of Brown’s contributions have been to Republicans, his most recent contribution was $250 to California Senator Kamala Harris.

In 2012, Brown was one of two non-jurists to be included on Gov. Nathan Deal’s list of finalists for a Georgia Supreme Court vacancy.  Deal ultimately chose Georgia Court of Appeals judge Keith Blackwell.

Overall Assessment

As an appellate clerk, a former federal prosecutor, and a law firm partner, Brown is well-qualified to serve as a federal judge.  Having served as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, Brown has the experience to gauge both sides of a criminal case.  At any rate, Brown lacks the baggage that brought down both the Boggs and Lopez nominations.  As such, as a candidate who supported both David Perdue and Kamala Harris, Brown will likely be confirmed comfortably.

[1] R. Robin McDonald, Alston & Bird Partner Brown’s Path to the Georgia Federal Court Bench, Daily Report, July 18, 2017,

[2] Press Release, White House, President Obama Nominates Eight to Serve on the United States District Courts (Dec. 19, 2013) (on file at  

[3] See Humberto Sanchez, Next Nasty Nomination Fight for Obama: Michael Boggs on the Hot Seat, RollCall, March 10, 2014,

[4] Burgess Everett, Obama Abandons Judicial Nomination, Politico, Dec. 31, 2014,

[5] Press Release, White House, President Obama Nominates Seven to Serve on the United States District Courts (July 30, 2015) (on file at  

[6] See Greg Bluestein, Johnny Isakson Says Dax Lopez Deserves a Hearing: ‘I Believe in the Constitution’, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jan. 11, 2016,

[7] Seung Min Kim, Republican Senator Sinks GOP Judge’s Nomination, Politico, Feb. 2, 2016,

[8] Hunter, MacLean, Exley & Dunn, P.C. v. Frame et al., 507 S.E.2d 411 (Ga. 1998).

[9] Rockholdt Furniture Inc. v. Kincaid Furniture Co., Inc.; Rhodes Furniture Co., 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 22426 (6th Cir., Sept. 10, 1999).

[10] Uboh v. Reno, 141 F.3d 1000 (11th Cir. 1998).

[11] George Henry, Lewis Pleads Not Guilty to Drug Charges; No Trial Date Established for Ravens Running Back, Wash. Post, Feb. 27, 2004.

[12] See supra n. 1.

[13] See id.

[14] See id.

[15] See id.

[16] Maghen Moore, DeKalb Judge Becker Gobbled Up in Corruption Investigation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aug. 26, 2015,

[17] Id.

[18] Press Release, Alston & Bird, Former Nomura Bond Trader Wins Jury Acquittal on Securities & Wire Fraud Charges (June 20, 2017) (on file at