Fresh off declaring a mistrial in the Holy Land Foundation case, Chief U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish of the Northern District of Texas this month will take senior status, leaving a vacancy in the federal courthouse downtown. By the end of next week, his replacement will likely be on his way to Dallas: Eight months after U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn asked President Bush to nominate former prosecutor Reed O’Connor to replace Fish, his nomination finally reaches the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
A press secretary in the Senate Judiciary Committee told Unfair Park this morning that O'Connor's nomination will likely be a smooth ride: His October 24 hearing before the committee, which you can watch here, was not "contentious," says Erica Chabot, judiciary press secretary to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the committee's chairman. "No fireworks came out of it," she tells Unfair Park. "He's not one you hear about as being controversial."
Chabot does note that because this is the first time O'Connor's name has appeared on the agenda, there's always the chance he'll get bumped back a week, as senators often take a little extra time to go through the nominee's answers to the questions posed during the initial hearing. But "he's expected to get the OK without much of a fuss," Chabot says. "It's a positive step it's on the agenda so quickly after the hearing."
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Part of the reason O'Connor is expected to breeze through the process is his resume. Reed Charles O'Connor, a Houston native formerly an associate at Vinson & Elkins, has been a prosecutor for the last 13 years, first with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, then the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas. And the Senate Judiciary Committee already knows O'Connor well: In 2003 and '05, he served as the committee's majority chief counsel, most recently for its Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship. And it's not like the Judiciary Committee doesn't already have enough to deal with. --Robert Wilonsky