Trump Taps Two for Federal Judgeships in Texas, Virginia

WASHINGTON (CN) – One of the former prosecutors behind the country’s only successful conviction of a 9/11 plotter is one of two candidates tapped Friday by President Donald Trump for federal judgeships.

Trump nominated U.S. Magistrate Judge David Novak to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Novak has served as a magistrate judge on the court since 2012, having spent the previous 18 years as a federal prosecutor in the state.

During that tenure as an assistant U.S. attorney, Novak was involved in the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to his role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Moussaoui remains the only person convicted in U.S. courts for having a role in the attacks and shouted Novak’s name after he was sentenced to life in prison, according to the Washington Post.

President George W. Bush nominated Novak for a judgeship with the court in 2007, but the Senate never voted on his nomination. 

Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats, recommended Novak for the vacancy last year and both praised his nomination in a statement Friday.

“We are pleased that the president has nominated Judge Novak to fill the vacancy,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement. “Based on Mr. Novak’s distinguished record, we are confident he would serve capably on the bench. We hope our colleagues will join us to support this well-qualified nominee.”

Trump on Friday also chose Justice Ada Brown from the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Running as a Republican, Brown was elected in 2014 to a new term on the Texas appeals court. 

Before taking the bench, Brown worked at the firm McKool Smith, focusing on patent infringement and commercial litigation. She also worked as a prosecutor in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and spent time on the Dallas County Criminal Court.

Brown is one of only two black appellate judges in Texas. In an October 2011 opinion piece for the Dallas Morning News where she wrote about her experience with racism, Brown recounted the time a judge in New Mexico used a racial epithet in a conversation with her and an incident in which the manager of a Dallas bookstore called the police on her and threatened to have her charged with criminal trespassing.

Police who responded to the call refused to arrest her after seeing her badge from the District Attorney’s Office. She later brought a federal civil rights suit against the store and settled “for peanuts.”

“I realized that even today, sometimes brown people really are harassed for no good reason,” Brown wrote. “We really can be arrested for merely being at the wrong place at the wrong time. That day, in that bookstore, I saw a tiny flash of what my dad faced every day growing up in the segregated south.”

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