Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, March 15, 2012


Page 1


Vote on District Court Nominee Michael Fitzgerald Set for Today


From Staff and Wire Service Reports  


The nomination of Los Angeles attorney Michael W. Fitzgerald to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California is set for a vote today, after Democratic and Republican leaders of the U.S. Senate reached agreement to vote on 14 stalled nominations.

The vote on Fitzgerald is set to occur sometime after 2 p.m. Eastern time.

The deal was struck after Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had announced plans to file cloture motions on 17 nominations, meaning there would have been successive votes on whether to close debate on each nomination. Had any such motion received 60 or more votes, senators would have been forced to vote on each such nomination after another 30 hours of debate.

Instead, senators agreed that 14 of the nominees will be voted on, at the rate of about two per week, between now and May 7. The first two will be Fitzgerald and Gina Marie Groh, a district court nominee from West Virginia, who is also set to be voted on after a short debate this afternoon.

Fitzgerald, 52, was nominated by President Obama on July 20 of last year to succeed Judge A. Howard Matz, who had taken senior status nine days later. The Judiciary Committee favorably reported the nomination on Nov. 3 without a dissenting vote.

‘Well Qualified’

The nominee received a unanimous “well qualified” rating from the American Bar Association’s evaluating panel. A graduate of Harvard College and UC Berkeley School of Law, he clerked for Second Circuit Judge Irving Kaufman before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office here in Los Angeles. A State Bar member since 1987, a partner in Corbin, Fitgerald & Athey,, handling white collar criminal defense and business litigation

One other California nominee is covered by yesterday’s agreement. Judge Jacqueline Nguyen would be elevated from the Central District court to the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals.

The rest of the 14 are David Nuffer, of Utah; Ronnie Abrams, of New York; Rudolph Contreras, of Virginia; Miranda Du, of Nevada; Susie Morgan, of Louisiana; Gregg Jeffrey Costa, of Texas; David Campos Guaderrama, of Texas; Brian C. Wimes, of Missouri; Kristine Gerhard Baker, of Arkansas; and John Z. Lee, of Illinois, to the district courts and Stephanie Thacker to the Fourth U.S. Circuit of Appeals.

Watford Prospects Uncertain

The agreement leaves uncertain the prospects of eight nominees who were approved by the Judiciary Committee but are not covered by the deal. They include two Ninth Circuit choices, Los Angeles attorney Paul Watford and Arizona Supreme Court Justice Michael Hurwitz.

One attorney advocating in favor of Obama’s nominees said yesterday’s agreement could lead to votes on those choices as well.

“By ensuring merits votes on 14 judicial nominees, the deal could and should actually free up the Senate floor time that may be needed to push other nominees…past obstruction to floor votes and confirmation,” Glenn Sugameli told the MetNews. Sugameli is based in Washington, D.C. and works for a coalition of environmental groups.

Reid and the Democrats complained that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and the Republicans were slow-walking the list of nominees, even those arousing no objections. McConnell insisted the pace was reasonable and demanded that the Senate return to a pending small business bill at a time when voters of all stripes say the economy is the No. 1 concern.

Reid said he would do so as soon as the judges were voted on. Points made, both leaders announced a deal at midday before the standoff turned into a real fight that might have pleased their parties’ bases, but alienated a broader electorate hostile to partisanship on Capitol Hill.


Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company