Hi kids, well it’s that day again.
We’ve previously discussed how recent criticism regarding the composition of the Federal JNC may impact Michael Hanzman’s long road to a federal judgeship, and here we see his name in the mix again in this excellent John Pacenti column:
Even before a call for official applications, some prominent names are swirling in the Miami legal community to replace U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley, who took senior status.
Federal Public Defender Kathleen Williams and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Robert Scola are expected to apply. Sources say three other Miami-Dade judges — Kevin Emas, Mary Barzee Flores and Darrin Gayles — also plan to throw their hats into the ring.
Flores spent more than a decade as an assistant public defender before taking the bench in 2003. Emas was on the short list for the Florida Supreme Court twice last year.
Attorneys Michael Hanzman, a name partner with Hanzman Gilbert in Coral Gables, and Judith Korchin, a Holland & Knight partner in Miami, also are expected to be in the mix when the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission seeks applications. A notice is expected any day.
So far, the lawyers who are said to be interested in applying are exclusively from the Miami area even though Hurley sits in West Palm Beach. The Southern District has recommended to the administrative office of the 11th U.S. Circuit that the new judge be assigned to Fort Lauderdale, according to the office of Chief U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno.
Guy Lewis, former U.S. attorney and two-time candidate for federal judge, said some of those mentioned have called him about the process.
“It’s an excellent slate, but I think you will see a number of other people come forward, including sitting judges and judges from the 3rd District Court of Appeal. I think you will see a federal magistrate,” he said. “I don’t think the slate is complete. I think you will see a number of names come out of Broward County.”
Lewis said the Broward County bar is decidedly Democratic and played a key role in getting Barack Obama elected.
“I think a lot of weight will be given to Broward,” said Lewis, a name partner with Lewis Tein in Miami.
Mitchell Berger, a founder of Berger Singerman in Fort Lauderdale and a big player in Democratic fund-raising, said local bar politics will play as big a role as it does in state judgeships.
“People in the Southern District who practice in federal court are quite used to going to Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade counties with respect to their cases,” he said. “I do think it’s important judges have a feel for their community in common law jurisprudence. In federal court, the community is the Southern District at large.”
The 56-member JNC will whittle the applicants to a handful to present to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who make the final recommendation to President Obama. The U.S. Senate must confirm Obama’s pick for the position.
Hanzman has contributed to political campaigns for both parties. Among Hanzman’s contributions since 2000 is $15,000 to the Democratic National Committee and at least $4,000 to Nelson, according to the Federal Elections Commission. He also contributed $5,000 to Sen. Mel Martinez in 2004, according to the Federal Elections Commission.
Kathleen Williams and Judith Korchin are certainly prominent women lawyers, at least here in Miami, and both are well-known and respected among the federal judiciary. And Michael of course is eminently qualified.But where are the powerhouse Hispanic applicants in this mix? And which Judge from the 3d DCA is Guy talking about?