Questioning of Judicial Nominee Does Not Go Well

Matthew Petersen struggles with some of the basics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2017 12:13 PM CST
Questioning of Judicial Nominee Does Not Go Well
A still from video of Matther Petersen's hearing.   (YouTube)

The confirmation hearing of a judicial nominee is getting way more attention than such a hearing typically would, for the wrong reasons. Matthew Petersen is a lawyer on the Federal Election Committee, but he has no trial experience, notes the Washington Post. That fact caught the attention of GOP Sen. John Kennedy, who began asking some basic legal questions of Petersen, who has been nominated by President Trump for a lifetime seat on US District Court for the District of Columbia. Has he ever tried a jury trial? "I have not." Civil, criminal, or bench? No, no, and no. State or federal court? "I have not." HuffPo has more excerpts:

  • Kennedy: "As a trial judge, you’re obviously going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is?"
  • Petersen: "Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with."
  • Kennedy: "Do you know what a motion in limine is?"
  • Petersen: "Yes.. I haven’t, I’m, again, my background is not in litigation as when I was replying to Chairman (Chuck) Grassley (R-Iowa), I haven’t had to um, again, do a deep dive."

And so on. "Don't want to beat up on the guy but the questions he was being asked could be answered by a second year law student," a Georgetown law professor tweeted after seeing a video shared by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse captioned with "MUCH WATCH" and "Hoo-boy," per CBS News. The video shows a visibly uncomfortable Petersen recounting three years spent at a Washington law firm, which were followed by nine years at the FEC. Petersen says he oversees the FEC's litigation division but admits his background is "not in litigation" and "the path that many successful district court judges have taken has been a different one than I have taken." In his defense, the American Bar Association rates Petersen as "qualified" for the judge position. (Two nominations for federal judgeships were pulled earlier this week.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.