Senate Judiciary Votes Out Top Trial Lawyer for Federal Judgeship

By June 17, 2010Briefly Legal

The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 13-6 to support confirmation of  John “Jack” McConnell to be a U.S. District Court Judge for Rhode Island.

McConnell is the Motley Rice partner and campaign contributor who, with the state attorney general’s office, orchestrated the state’s public nuisance lawsuit against paint manufacturers in the hopes of earning millions of dollars in contingency fees. The Rhode Island Supreme Court eventually threw out the suit.

Cornell University law professor William A. Jacobson has been following McConnell’s nomination. He reports, “The Most Important Judicial Nomination You Never Heard Of Set For Vote Today”:

At the hearing this morning, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke at length in opposition to the nomination. Sessions mentioned numerous instances of McConnell and his firm rewarding politicians with campaign contributions after receiving state business, and how McConnell publicly rebuked the Rhode Island Supreme Court in very unflattering terms after the Court threw out McConnell’s landmark lead paint lawsuit (which was started when Whitehouse was Attorney General).

In defense of McConnell, Sheldon Whitehouse accused opponents of McConnell of attempting to “smear” McConnell. Whitehouse, as usual, changed the subject and engaged in a lengthy lecture making it seem as if anyone who opposed McConnell was against the jury system and our entire system of justice.

John Cornyn (R-Tx) stated that he opposed the nomination, taking Whitehouse to task (my paraphrase) because while it was not necessary to be pro-business to get on the bench, it was necessary not to be anti-business.

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