Trump Nominates Nine for Judicial Seats, Including Four Appellate Slots

WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump on Monday nominated nine new federal judges, including four to seats on federal appeals courts across the country.

Monday’s announcement was the 11th group of nominees Trump has sent to the Senate for its consideration since his inauguration last year.

One of the nominees announced Monday, Andrew Oldham, would be the fifth judge Trump has placed on the Fifth Circuit since taking office.

Oldham is currently general counsel to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, having previously served as the state’s deputy solicitor general. A veteran of the President George W. Bush Justice Department, Oldham clerked for Justice Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court before taking a job at the firm Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel and Frederick.

In 2015m Oldham helped author a friend of the court brief filed at the Supreme Court for a group of governors supporting Texas’ successful challenge to President Barack Obama’s executive order expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Earlier this year, Abbott appointed Oldham as his liaison to the Texas Access to Justice Commission, which is charged with improving access to courts for low-income people in Texas.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Oldham took a class from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who taught at the school before running for office, according to a 2012 story by WBUR in Boston.

Trump on Monday also made his second nomination to the Ninth Circuit since taking office, selecting Hawaii attorney Mark Bennett to serve on a court Trump has publicly criticized.

Bennett served as Hawaii’s attorney general from 2003 to 2010, making him the longest-serving attorney general in the state’s history. Before being appointed to the job by Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, Bennett spent nine years as a federal prosecutor in Washington D.C. and Hawaii.

Bennett now works at theĀ  Honolulu firm Starn, O’Toole, Marcus & Fisher, working on complex and appellate litigation and antitrust issues. Bennett’s profile on the law firm’s website notes he has represented an oil company in an antitrust lawsuit and health care suppliers in a Medicaid and Medicare fraud investigation.

Two of Trump’s nominees announced on Monday would serve on the Seventh Circuit if confirmed. Judge Amy St. Eve has served on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois since 2002, having previously worked for the Whitewater independent counsel’s office as it looked into former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton’s real estate investments.

St. Eve was particularly involved in the prosecutions of former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, as well as those of former Clinton financial partners Susan and James McDougal, according to the White House press release. All three were convicted of various crimes connected to the Whitewater investigation.

The Washington Post reported in May 2017 that St. Eve, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, was a possible replacement for former FBI Director James Comey after his surprising ouster last year.

Trump’s other selection to the Seventh Circuit, Michael Scudder, also has ties to the Bush administration, having worked in the White House Counsel’s Office for two years. Scudder worked as a federal prosecutor in New York from 2002 to 2006 and clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Scudder now is a partner at the Chicago firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he focuses on white collar crime and government enforcement. Scudder was on the team of attorneys the University of North Carolina hired in the wake of its academic fraud scandal. Scudder also represented former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a federal corruption and bribery trial.

The rest of the nominees Trump announced on Monday are up for spots on federal district courts.

Judge Nancy Brasel has served on the Minnesota state district court for the Fourth Judicial District since 2011, when he was appointed by Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. A former federal prosecutor in Minnesota, Brasel would serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota if confirmed.

Trump also nominated Eric Tostrud to the Minnesota federal court. A professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and of counsel at the firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen, Tostrud has a history of working on insurance and health care litigation.

Trump’s choice for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Judge C.J. Williams, a U.S. magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa since 2016, spent the previous 19 years as a federal prosecutor in the state.

Peter Phipps, whom Trump nominated to a spot on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, has spent the last 14 years at the Justice Department, where he currently works as the senior trial counsel in the department’s civil division. Prior to joining the Justice Department, Phipps spent time practicing civil litigation at the firm Jones Day.

Trump’s final nominee announced on Monday is Thomas Kleeh, a West Virginia attorney who has spent the last 19 years at the firm Steptoe Johnson, where he focuses on employment law. A former staff counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee in the West Virginia Senate, Kleeh would serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia if confirmed.

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