Friday, March 26, 2010
Obama Nominates Judge Mary Murguia to Ninth Circuit
By STEVEN M. ELLIS, Staff Writer
U.S. District Judge Mary H. Murguia of the District of Arizona is President Obama’s pick to become the next judge on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, her office said yesterday.
A member of the judge’s staff confirmed a report on the website the Blog of Legal Times, which said yesterday that Obama has nominated Murguia, 49, to replace Judge Michael Hawkins, who took senior status last month.
The representative told the MetNews that Murguia’s selection was official, even though the judge and her staff had not yet seen any formal statement by the White House on the Internet.
“We’ve been checking,” she commented.
Murguia has served on the district court in Arizona since 2000 and is reportedly the first Latina to sit on the court.
A native of Kansas City, Kan., she studied Spanish and journalism at the University of Kansas before attending law school there as well. She began her legal career in 1985 as an assistant district attorney in Wyandotte County, Kan., which encompasses her hometown.
In 1990, she was appointed an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona, and she served as criminal deputy chief from 1994 to 1998.
Later that year, she went to Washington, D.C., to become counsel to the director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys at the Department of Justice, which oversees federal prosecutors. In 1999, then-Attorney General Janet Reno appointed her as the executive office’s director.
Then-President Clinton nominated Murguia to the district court in 2000, and she was among the last of his nominees confirmed by the Senate.
As noted by the Blog of Legal Times, Murguia presided as a trial judge over a patent infringement case that landed on the cover of The American Lawyer last November. The trial between C.R. Bard Inc. and W.L. Gore & Associates Inc. ended in a $410 million judgment against Gore for damages alone.
Last July she recused herself from presiding in a racial profiling lawsuit against Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff’s legal team argued that Murguia was biased and had to step aside because her twin sister, Janet Murguia, is president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, an Hispanic advocacy group that has harshly criticized Arpaio’s policies.
In a 27-page order, the judge disagreed with almost all of the defense’s arguments, writing that “no reasonable person would automatically ascribe the views of one sibling to another.” Nevertheless, she granted the defense’s motion, commenting that “the Court is mindful that it must be vigilant to avoid even the slightest appearance of impropriety.”
Murguia declined to comment on her nomination. The judge is Obama’s second nominee to the Ninth Circuit. Last month the president named Goodwin Liu of the UC Berkeley School of Law to fill a new seat created in January 2009.
A hearing on Liu’s confirmation was scheduled before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, but was postponed after Republican senators, in a fight over reconciliation “fixes” to the Democrat’s national health care plan, invoked the so-called two-hour rule to slow down some Senate activities.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company