Chris Dickerson Feb. 22, 2013, 2:57pm
MIAMI - An apparent plan by the lobbying group for the nation's trial lawyers to identify potential federal judicial nominees is drawing the attention of others.
During its annual winter meeting earlier this month in Miami, the American Association for Justice, had a meeting regarding the President's Federal Judicial Task Force. The task force does not have a page on the AAJ website yet. As with most of the meetings listed on the agenda, its page does not provide any extra information.
A source familiar with the plan says the group will get involved in the judicial nomination process by promoting candidates in line with AAJ goals and priorities. It is unclear how the AAJ will promote candidates. The AAJ has not return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.
Jim Copland, director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy, says he isn't surprised by this development.
"The organized trial bar has really created these so-called judicial hellholes by getting people in judicial positions on the state level," Copland said. "Now, they're looking at federal judicial nominees. And, as long as they have an administration like the Obama administration in power, they'll do what they can to get those appointments made."
Copland said you simply have to look at the 2011 nomination of Jack McConnell to a federal judgeship in Rhode Island as an example.
"This administration will support these types of nominees," Copland said. "I just hope the senators from both parties doing the confirmations will look at these nominees more closely when it's clear they are allies of trial lawyers.
"Senators of both parties, including Republicans like Lindsey Graham, need to be held into account to not just rubber stamp the trial lawyers.
"With folks like this wielding power, it's not going to be hard to find trial lawyers in those states that those senators will support. And then, this administration is willing to sign off, based on McConnell experience."
The communications director for the Defense Research Institute said his group had no comment about the AAJ plan.
"We wouldn't comment on AAJ's internal operations, but we do share their concern that the federal judiciary currently has a vacancy rate of almost 10 percent," Tim Kolly said Thursday. "That's extraordinary and unacceptable."