It was over in a flash. Former federal prosecutor Haywood Gilliam’s nomination to a federal judgeship in San Francisco was approved by voice vote of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.
His nomination, along with eight others approved in the same vote, will go on to the full Senate. The question is whether the lame duck Senators will approve the nominees before the term ends and the new Republican-dominated Senate takes over in January.
Sen. Ted Grassley, (R-Iowa), raised the issue by saying the Senate doesn’t traditionally approve judge nominees during lame duck sessions, in order to give the incoming senators a voice in the matter.
Judiciary Chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt), was quick to point out that many Republican judicial nominees have been confirmed when Democrats were both the minority and majority in the Senate.
“I want to clear up any misconceptions about lame duck sessions,” he said. During President George W. Bush’s tenure Democrats confirmed two controversial judges during lame duck sessions.
If confirmed by the full Senate, Gilliam would fill the vacancy created when Judge Claudia Wilken announced she would move to senior status at the end of 2014.
Gilliam, currently a white collar criminal defense specialist at Covington & Burling in San Francisco, served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1999 to 2006. During that period he was chief of the securities fraud section from 2005 to 2006.
Prior to Covington, Gilliam was a partner at Bingham McCutchen from 2006 to 2009.
In 1994, he served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, who remains on the bench in San Francisco.
Gilliam received a law degree from Stanford University Law School and his undergraduate degree from Yale University.
Only one of the judicial nominees drew any opposition. Senators Ted Cruz, (R-Texas) and Mike Lee, (R-Utah), sent word they should be recorded as “no” votes for Allison D. Burrows of Massachusetts.
Others confirmed on voice votes along with Gilliam were, Jorge Luis Alonso and John R. Blakey, both for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeanne E. Davidson, the Court of International Trade; Amos L. Mazzant III, the Eastern District of Texas; Amit P. Mehta, the District of Columbia; Robert Lee Pitman, the Western District of Texas and Robert W. Schroeder III, the Eastern District of Texas.