Bench Memos

The ABA and Ninth Circuit Nominee Goodwin Liu

According to the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary’s explanation of its standards for rating judicial nominees, “a prospective nominee to the federal bench ordinarily should have at least twelve years’ experience in the practice of law.”  Further, “the Committee recognizes that substantial courtroom and trial experience as a lawyer or trial judge is important.”

Ninth Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu hasn’t even been out of law school for twelve years yet (he graduated from Yale law school in the late spring of 1998), and he’s only been a member of a state bar since May 1999.  His entire practice of law appear to consist of two years or so in appellate litigation, so it would appear that he has zero “trial experience as a lawyer.”  Nor, of course, does he have any experience as a trial judge.

Despite all this, the ABA committee has somehow seen fit to give Liu its highest rating of “well qualified.”  What a joke.

(I recognize, of course, that there are factors in the Committee’s explanation of its standards that might offset Liu’s woeful lack of experience and plausibly justify the Committee in stretching to give Liu a “qualified” rating.  But the “well qualified” assessment is simply ridiculous and is yet further evidence of the  political corruption of the ABA Committee.)