McConnell, others renominated by Obama

By John O'Brien | Jan 6, 2011


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - President Barack Obama has renominated several possible federal judges, including Rhode Island trial lawyer Jack McConnell.

McConnell was one of 42 candidates renominated by Obama, and originally one of five candidates who have been met with resistance. The others are former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, University of California law school professor Goodwin Liu, Magistrate Judge Edward Chen and Connecticut federal judge Robert Chatigny.

Chatigny was not renominated. Obama had appointed Chatigny and Liu to spots on appellate courts.

The 42 nominations were not confirmed by the last Senate.
The Washington Examiner, a conservative publication, has written that McConnell is trying to buy a federal judgeship.

Obama picked McConnell to fill a spot on a district court in Rhode Island. McConnell, of Motley Rice, and his wife have given almost $700,000 to Democrats since 1993 and was already approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Among the beneficiaries of this campaign largesse were Obama, four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that approved his nomination, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee," the editorial says.

"All 12 Democrats on the panel voted yes on McConnell's nomination."

The committee recommended McConnell's approval 13-6 in June. The lone Republican who supported McConnell was South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, who has received $7,700 from Motley Rice, the editorial says.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed recommended McConnell to fill a vacancy in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island last year.

"Jack McConnell is a brilliant legal mind and an outstanding community leader. We believe he possesses the experience, intellect, and temperament to be a great judge on the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island," a statement released by the senators said.

Whitehouse, then the attorney general, hired Motley Rice to file a lawsuit against the former makers of lead paint in 1999.

The state Supreme Court unanimously struck down a verdict for the plaintiffs in 2008, turning back a legal theory that said the companies created a public nuisance by making lead-based paint, even before its effects were known and the federal government banned it in 1978.

After Whitehouse left the Attorney General's Office, McConnell and his wife pumped $12,600 into his campaign fund. Whitehouse took office in 2007.

Since 2001, the McConnells have given Reed $13,200, including $8,800 for his 2008 re-election campaign.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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