Calif v. Idaho Turf War Over Judge Seat Still On

John Owens
John Owens

[UPDATED]  It was too early to declare a truce in the nine-year California vs. Idaho war to fill the vacancy for Judge Stephen Trott’s seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

California and Idaho senators have had a turf war going since 2004 over whether the vacancy created by Trott’s move to senior status opened a nomination from California, where Trott began his judicial career, or Idaho, where he has presided for most of his tenure.

Sidestepping the dispute, President Obama announced last week the nomination of Los Angeles lawyer John B. Owens to fill Trott’s seat.

Idaho’s Republican Senator Mike Crapo “was not consulted on the decision and is not happy with the nomination,” said Judd Deere, Crapo’s spokesman.  [update] Deere says both he and Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, are “evaluating” how to proceed.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the other side of this Maginot line, did not respond to a request for comment.

Crapo’s position does not bode well for Owens’s nomination fight.

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.

Owens, 41, is a litigator at Munger, Tolles & Olson, 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 Stanford Law School, graduating first in his class in 1996, and received his undergraduate degree from UC, Berkeley.



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