Can it be true? There is finally a judicial nominee to fill the longest-running vacancy on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – the seat held by Judge Stephen Trott. It has been open since Dec. 31, 2004 when Trott assumed senior status.
On Thursday, President Obama announced the nomination of John B. Owens to fill Trott’s seat and a second nominee, Michelle T. Friedland, to fill the vacancy created in April by Judge Raymond Fisher assuming senior status.
The real news here is that Owens is from Los Angeles, resolved the war between Idaho and California senators over who got to fill the geographic seat. Win for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has argued Trott came from California so it was a California seat, even though he later moved to Idaho and has served much of his judicial career there.
The judicial vacancy for Trott’s seat is the oldest vacancy in the U.S. among 87 current judicial vacancies, according to the Administrative Office of the Courts.
An even bigger win for the Munger, Tolles and Olson law firm. Both nominees are partners in that firm.
Owens, 41, is a litigator specializing in representing corporations and individuals under government investigation and conducting internal investigations of corporate misconduct allegations.
Prior to joining Munger, Tolles in 2012 he served 11 years as a federal prosecutor, focused on white collar crime in Los Angeles from 2001 to 2004 and later in San Diego where he became chief of the criminal division.
He is a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and prior to that he clerked for Judge Clifford Wallace of the 9th Circuit.
He attended StanfordLawSchool, graduating first in his class in 1996, and received his undergraduate degree from UC, Berkeley.
Friedland, also 41, is also a litigation partner at Munger Tolles & Olson specializing in antitrust litigation, appellate law and constitutional and academic affairs litigation for colleges and universities. She joined the law firm in 2004.
Prior to practicing law she was a lecturer at StanfordUniversityLawSchool where she taught federal jurisdiction and environmental law.
She was a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor from 2001 to 2002 and prior to that for Judge David Tatel of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
She was a Fulbright scholar at OxfordUniversity and received her law degree from StanfordLawSchool in 2000.
If both nominees are confirmed, it would bring the appeals court to full strength, with all 29 judgeships filled.