Black Bars Cry Foul Over List Of Judges
One african-american on proposed candidate list for six federal judgeships
Metro Atlanta's African-American bar associations have expressed dismay to President Barack Obama that a list of proposed candidates to fill six federal judgeships here includes just a single African-American.
In letters to the president, the groups have asked Obama to resurrect his nomination of U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Walker, an African-American who had the support of Georgia's two Republican U.S. senators before her 2011 nomination to serve on Atlanta's district court was withdrawn by the White House when it expired in December 2012.
Replacing one of three white proposed candidates with Walker would fulfill the groups' wish that at least two African-American women who live and practice law in the Northern District of Georgia be appointed to its bench.
The letters also criticized how the list was formed, saying Democrats and Republicans failed to consult black bar leaders for the first time in decades.
The list of six proposed candidates was forwarded to the White House after Georgia's U.S. senators and Atlanta lawyer Kenneth Canfield, who raised money for Obama's campaign, agreed to the deal, according to members of the Atlanta legal community familiar with it.
The deal includes proposed nominees for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit: Jill Pryor, a partner at Atlanta's Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore whom President Obama has twice nominated to the appellate court; and U.S. District Court Chief Judge Julie Carnes of the Northern District of Georgia, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson so far have blocked Pryor's nomination, but as part of the deal reportedly agreed to waive their objections in return for Carnes' appointment and three nominees of their choosing for the Northern District of Georgia bench.
Carnes' confirmation would create a fourth vacancy on the district court bench in Atlanta, where three judges who took senior status in 2009, 2010 and this year have yet to be replaced.
The single Democratic candidate for nomination to the Northern District bench is Leigh Martin May, a personal injury and product liability attorney at Butler Wooten & Fryhofer who is active in Democratic Party politics.
The senators' picks for the Northern District are: