Senate Judiciary Panel Approves Prosecutors, Patent Office Nominee

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a California lawyer who is nominated to lead the Patent and Trademark Office, as well as five nominees to lead federal prosecutor offices around the country.

Andrei Iancu, who is currently managing partner of the Los Angeles firm Irella & Manella, cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition and now goes to the full Senate for a final vote on his nomination to lead the patent office.

Iancu was born in Bucharest in 1968 and graduated from the UCLA School of Law in 1996 after spending five years as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft in California.

Iancu has represented a number of well-known companies in patent litigation, including defending Hewlett-Packard from Xerox’s claims that it infringed on a printing technology patent and representing TiVo in a series of disputes with technology companies that earned TiVo more than $1.5 billion in settlements and damages.

“Mr. Iancu has a proven record in the field of intellectual property law,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said at the meeting before the committee approved Iancu’s nomination. “He has an excellent academic and professional background in intellectual property law. He’s extremely knowledgeable about the patent system. He’s well respected in the legal community.”

The committee also unanimously approved five nominees to fill united states attorneys positions around the country.

One of the nominees is Ryan Patrick, who is the son of Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and is up for the position of U.S. attorney for the Southern  District of Texas. Patrick was a judge on the 177th District Court in Houston from 2012 to 2016, when he lost his reelection bid to Robert Johnson, a Democrat.

Patrick also worked as a state prosecutor in Harris County, Texas from  2006 to 2012.

The committee also approved Kansas Solicitor General Stephen McAllister, who is up for a job as U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas. McAllister has worked as Kansas Solicitor General since 2007, having clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court following law school.

Kansas drew national scrutiny in 2016 when McAllister co-authored a brief before the Kansas Supreme Court that cited the infamous Dred Scott decision as support for a state law banning second-trimester abortions. The state withdrew the brief over the reference to the decision, which held descendents of slaves could not be U.S. citizens and is widely regarded as the U.S. Supreme Court’s worst opinion.

Wal-Mart ethics and compliance director Duane Kees, nominated to serve as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, also received approval from the committee on Thursday. Kees was a lawyer in the Army for eight years and earned two Bronze Stars as well as a Meritorious Service Medal for his work.

Before entering military service, Kees worked as a partner at the Asa Hutchinson Law Group, whose former senior partner is Arkansas’ Republican governor.

The committee additionally signed off on Ronald Parsons, an attorney with the firm Johnson Janklow Abdallah Reiter & Parsons nominated to be U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota. Parsons leads the firm’s appellate division and once defended a pro-George W. Bush website in a defamation lawsuit brought by actress Jane Fonda and South Dakota Sen. James Abourezk.

Fonda and Abourezk sued the website ProBush.com for $5 million in damages after it included them on a “traitor list” it published online. The case was eventually settled for $1, according to Parsons’ profile on his firm’s website.

Parsons also successfully represented a group of Native American prisoners in South Dakota who sought to use tobacco in a Lakota religious ceremony while in prison.

The final attorney approved on Thursday was Michael Stuart, who chaired the West Virginia Republican Party from 2010 to 2012 and is nominated to be U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia. Stuart is an attorney at the firm Steptoe Johnson working in the firm’s tax practice group and chaired the West Virginia Presidential Debate Commission in 2014.

All of the nominees the Judiciary Committee approved on Thursday must still be confirmed by the full Senate before they can take their positions, but the ease with which they passed through the committee make it unlikely their nominations will face opposition once they reach the Senate floor.

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