Federal judges are appointed for life, which gives them the greatest possible independence. Under the Constitution, they can only be removed by impeachment.

For that reason, nominations to such posts have always been carefully vetted and, until recently, almost always were screened by an impartial panel of the American Bar Association. Not so with Donald Trump.

This week the media broadcast a painful grilling by a Republican senator of Trump nominee Matthew Spencer Petersen. Petersen admitted that he had never argued a motion before any court. He had never tried any kind of case to a verdict. He had never taken a deposition on his own. He did not know anything about important cases, which significantly limit federal jurisdiction.

The bulk of Petersen’s career after law school appears to have been “practicing” law as a very junior associate in a very big law firm, which often means just carrying the briefcases of senior lawyers. After three years in that position he became a staff lawyer (read, essentially, indoor clerk) for various congressional committees. He later was appointed by “W” Bush to the Federal Election Commission.

It strongly appears that Petersen’s only attraction was loyalty to a conservative political agenda. That should never be the test. President Trump’s nomination of Mr. Peterson was an insult to the entire federal judiciary, to the Constitution, and to the American people.

Mark Stevens lives in Galveston.

Locations

(27) comments

Carlos Ponce

His name has been withdrawn so don't fret, Mark.
You may find his credentials lacking. Understandable. But he
graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy from Brigham Young University in 1996
received his Juris Doctor in 1999 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was a member of the Virginia Law Review
practiced election and campaign finance law at Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, D.C.
served as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration
served as Republican chief counsel to the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
was member then chairman of the United States Federal Election Commission.
Understandable that because he was not a trial lawyer his credentials are lacking.
The rest of Trump's nominees seem okay, though.
I wish you were as attentive when Obama nominated several clunkers.[rolleyes]
Looks like Obama nominated Judge William Orrick to the 9th District because of politics and campaign contributions. He raised at least $200,000 for Barack Obama and donated $30,800 to committees supporting him.

Emile Pope

Clunker? Was he unqualified?

Carlos Ponce

He obviously doesn't know the law since the Supreme Court overturned his rulings. CLUNKER!

Emile Pope

Ridiculous.

Carlos Ponce

There you go again Emile with one word responses that show little to no thought behind it.

Emile Pope

If the fact that a judge's rulings are overturned makes them unqualified then all judges are unqualified. To say that a judge is incompetent because one of his rulings was overturned is ridiculous...

Carlos Ponce

"If the fact that a judge's rulings are overturned makes them unqualified then all judges are unqualified." When they make a big deal out of their rulings it makes them look like idiots when overturned. That coupled with the fact they contributed heavily to the nominating president's election campaign has a look of impropriety.

Jim Forsythe

Beside Matthew Petersen, here's two more.
It took longer for the handwriting to become clear for Brett Talley, a 36-year-old Justice Department official, ghost hunter and believer in the paranormal.
He was approved by the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote in November, despite a rare and unanimous unqualified rating by the American Bar Association. But as his nomination sat waiting for a vote by the full Senate, news organizations reported that he had failed to disclose key information required for all nominees on his Senate questionnaire. Specifically, he failed to disclose thousands of controversial blog posts under a pseudonym, including one supporting the early Ku Klux Klan, and failed to disclose that he is married to the chief of staff for White House counsel McGahn.

 Jeffrey Mateer, an outspoken supporter of religious liberty, nominated with the strong support of his home state senator, Ted Cruz of Texas. Shortly after the nomination was announced, gay rights groups called attention to frequent comments Mateer had made calling same-sex marriage "disgusting" and likening it to polygamy and bestiality. Speaking about a lawsuit brought by a transgender student, Mateer, said "it just shows you how Satan's plan is working and the destruction that is going on."
The three nominees who have withdrawn are not the only ones who could have problems. Damien Schiff, nominated for the Court of Federal Claims, wrote a blog post that called Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy a "judicial prostitute." Another, Thomas Farr, has been accused of lying about his role in suppressing the black vote in North Carolina. Both have been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and are awaiting confirmation.

Gary Miller

The lowest quality of Trump appointments seem to be just a little better than Obama's best. The higher quality Trump appointees are beyond understanding of liberals. B. Clinton and 'W' Bush appointed higher quality than Obama.

Jarvis Buckley

Obama , definitely put unqualified folks on the bench. I agree however this gentleman appeared lacking in necessary knowledge. He quickly withdrew his name. Rightly so, I'm
sure after he was told to. This article is nothing more than a Anti-Trump
article. Situation has been rectified.
Complain about Hilary your next article. Quit being a one trick pony.✌️

Jim Forsythe

How far back do you want to go? Or do you want to talk about the now?

Carlos Ponce

"How far back do you want to go? Or do you want to talk about the now?"
How about all the inept, incompetent partisans appointed by Obama are either removed or resign?

Jim Forsythe

John Pickering
On February 4, 1803, the House received a report from President Jefferson regarding the conduct of Judge Pickering of the District of New Hampshire. A select committee was appointed to investigate the matter and submitted its report to the House on February 18.On March 2, the House passed a resolution impeaching Judge Pickering.
On October 20, the House appointed a select committee to draft articles of impeachment. 13 Annals of Cong. 380 (1803). The select committee submitted four articles of impeachment to the House on December 27, and on December 30, articles were formally adopted.
The Senate began the impeachment trial against Judge Pickering on January 4, 1804. On March 12, 1804, the Senate convicted Judge Pickering on all four articles and removed him from office

Jim Forsythe

Are these the one's that you are talking about? Trump Abruptly Orders 46 Obama-Era Prosecutors to Resign.

How many did Obama appoint?
The total number of Obama Article III judgeship nominees to be confirmed by the United States Senate is 329, including two justices to the Supreme Court of the United States, 55 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, 268 judges to the United States district courts, and four judges to the United States Court of International Trade. Obama did not make any recess appointments to the federal courts.
In terms of Article I courts, Obama made 8 appointments to the United States Tax Court, 3 appointments to the United States Court of Federal Claims, 3 appointments to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, 2 appointments to the United States Court of Military Commission Review, and 2 appointments to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. He also elevated two chief judges of the Court of Federal Claims.
On the Article IV territorial courts, he made two appointments and elevated one judge to the position of chief judge.

Diane Turski

This is typical of nearly many nominees for many positions by the Trump administration, especially regarding Cabinet Secretaries! I hope there will be many impeachments to correct this aberration of a president and administration!

Kelly Naschke

Diane probably has Al Green on speed dial. The fact impeachmentS (plural) huh Diane? Gotta hand it to ya sista....you are always good for a laugh! Have you considered treatment for your TDS? Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Gary Miller

Diane! It requires more than one goofy voters opinion for congress to impeach anyone.

Jim Forsythe

Impeachment investigations of United States federal judges
There have been numerous attempts to impeach federal judges in the United States; a few have been successful in either forcing resignation or removing the judge. As of November 2003 there have been sixty-one federal judges or Supreme Court Justices investigated for impeachment. Many resigned 
Remember Samuel Kent – Southern District of Texas (Galveston)
Judge Kent submitted his resignation on June 2, 2009, with the proviso that it won't take effect for a full year. This angered the membership of the House Judiciary Committee, which voted unanimously on sending four articles of impeachment to the full House of Representatives on June 10, 2009. On June 19, the full House passed the articles unanimously, making Judge Kent the 14th judge to be impeached.

The last one that faced impeachment.
Mark Fuller – Middle District of Alabama
Judge Fuller was arrested on August 9, 2014 after his wife called police and reported her husband was drunk and hitting her while they were at an Atlanta hotel.
Fuller said he would resign on August 1, 2015, but then said he might change his mind. The House Judiciary committee stated he would indeed be impeached if he didn't resign by the date he originally announced,which he did.

Carlos Ponce

No impeachment, Diane.

Doyle Beard

All you crybabies need to be consistent and be an independent so you can complain about both sides.

Jarvis Buckley

Diane, I hope this coming year is a great year for you. While I disagree with 90 percent of your comments. As a deplorable I will defend your right to say them, always. Merry Christmas.

Gary Scoggin

So the main defense here is that Obama did it too. Pretty lame.

Carlos Ponce

Big difference Gary. Trump's nominee was withdrawn. Many of Obama's politically inspired nominees are still there. Buying judgeships through political contributions - That's important.

Doyle Beard

NO the main thing is no complaint then but lots of bellyaching now. Why.

Ken Hufstetler

Don't blame Trump. He depends on recommendations. For Texas those recommendations come from Cruz and Cornyn. There are no qualifications, other than a law degree. That is true for state and local benches. Not unusual, and seems to be more common today, that on-the-job-training is the way.

Jim Forsythe

"The Buck Stops Here"
Before a President makes a recommendation, it becomes their reasonability to make sure the person is qualified. If he is going to take credit for anything that goes well, he must also take reasonably for the things that do not go well.  

Formal Qualifications- no law degree required.
The U.S. Constitution guides the process for confirming a federal judge, but does not specify qualifications. Notably, a federal judge is not required to possess a law degree unless he serves as magistrate or bankruptcy judge. In most cases, those who assess judicial candidates apply their own criteria. As such, presidents and members of Congress develop their own standards for federal judgeships.
Reviews-
Federal judge candidates' are subjected to a thorough review including background checks conducted by the Department of Justice and the FBI. Past rulings of those with judicial experience are carefully examined. Former litigators will have their performance and tactics closely scrutinized. Any published writings, including academic papers dating back to college, will also be considered. In addition, decision-makers often weigh a candidate's public stance on certain issues, including prominent legal questions. A candidate's personal life may also be taken into consideration.


A federal judge can serve in a district court, court of appeals, the U.S. Court of International Trade, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims or the U.S. Supreme Court. Most are appointed by the president and confirmed by a vote in the Senate. However, appeals court judges appoint federal bankruptcy judges, and district judges appoint federal magistrate judges. The qualifications for these positions vary depending on the preferences of the person reviewing nominees.

Donald Glywasky

We have elected some notable people as judges in Galveston County, so we need to get our house in order before we point fingers at trump

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