The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California is currently short five judges. Having appointed two judges to the court already, the Biden Administration is slowly naming candidates for the remaining vacancies, including Jones Day partner Robert Huie.
Robert S. Huie received his B.A. from Calvin University, a private evangelical university in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1998 and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2002.
After law school, Huie spent a year at Wiggin Dana before clerking for Judge Jose Cabranes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Huie then joined Latham & Watkins as a civil litigator.
In 2008, Huie became an Assistant United States Attorney based in San Diego. In 2020, he moved to become a Partner at Jones Day, where he currently serves.
History of the Seat
Huie has been nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, to a seat vacated on October 31, 2018, by Judge Michael Anello’s move to senior status. On November 21, 2019, President Trump nominated federal prosecutor Michelle Pettit to fill this vacancy. However, Pettit was not processed by the Senate Judiciary Committee before the end of the Trump Administration.
On January 19, 2022, President Biden nominated Huie to fill this seat.
Throughout his career, Huie has worked both as a federal prosecutor and in private practice at a number of different law firms. In the latter capacity, Huie has worked as part of lawsuits related to insurance payouts from the September 11 terrorist attacks. See, e.g., S.R. Int’l Bus. Ins. Co. v. World Trade Ctr. Props. LLC., 467 F.3d 107 (2d Cir. 2006).
Notably, as a federal prosecutor, Huie was one of the leading prosecutors in the Fat Leonard scandal, in which 33 people were charged as part of a conspiracy to bribe U.S. Navy officials in exchange for classified intelligence. See Craig Whitlock, ‘Fat Leonard’ Probe Expands to Ensnare More than 60 Admirals, Wash. Post, Nov. 5, 2017. Huie’s work led to a number of guilty pleas, including of U.S. Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez. See Elliot Spagat, Navy Official is Highest Yet to Plead Guilty in Bribery Case, A.P. State & Local, Jan. 7, 2015. In other matters, Huie prosecuted Terry Lee Steward for threatening judges who presided over his medical malpractice case. Man Gets Time Served and Home Detention for Threatening to Kill Judges, City News Service, Feb. 28, 2011.
While the Biden Administration has generally sought out “unconventional” backgrounds in their judicial nominees, Huie, a former federal prosecutor and current biglaw partner, represents a brand of nominees that generally skated to confirmation in the past. While Huie may still draw some opposition, he is likely to be confirmed comfortably nonetheless.