The Senate filled the oldest vacancy on a federal appellate court in the U.S. Monday with the narrow 56-43 confirmation of Los Angeles attorney John B. Owens to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Owens, first nominated in August 2013, fills the seat vacated nearly a decade ago by Judge Stephen Trott, who assumed senior status in 2004.
Trott’s seat has remained vacant since December 2004 in a fight between senators from California and Idaho over which state had the right to fill Trott’s seat. Trott was first appointed while living in California but he later moved to Idaho and has served the bulk of his tenure there.
He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. There is only one remaining vacancy on the 9th Circuit and that is the seat of Judge Raymond Fisher, who took senior status in April 2013, creating a vacancy.
Owens, 42, did not win appointment to the court in the last term because Congress did not act on his nomination and he was renominated by President Obama in January.
Prior to joining the court, he was a litigator with Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, beginning in January 2012. He specialized in conducting internal corporate investigations into allegations of misconduct and represented white collar defendants and companies under government investigation.
He spent 11 years as a federal prosecutor focused on white collar crime and border crime in Los Angeles and San Diego. In one case, Owens successfully prosecuted a complex investment fraud scheme that resulted in a 30-year sentence, one of the longest white collar terms ever handed down in the Southern District.
He has also handled more than 20 appeals to the 9th Circuit.
While an attorney for the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. he primarily investigated civil violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act and consumer fraud.
Owens also worked at O’Melveny & Meyers.
He received his law degree from StanfordLawSchool in 1996 and his undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and 9th Circuit Judge Clifford Wallace.