R. Robin McDonald
Daily Report, January 17, 2014, 12:00 AM
A coalition of African-American lawyers and bar associations in Georgia has asked the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman for permission to testify in opposition to six nominees to the federal bench in Georgia at their confirmation hearings.
In a Jan. 10 letter, Advocacy for Action asked Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to allow the organization's representatives to testify against the nominees—four for U.S. District Court judgeships in the Northern District of Georgia and two seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
The letter—signed by former Fulton County Chief Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore, Holland & Knight partner Charles Johnson, AT&T corporate attorney Suzanne Ockleberry and former Richmond County Superior Court Judge Bettianne Hart—said the request was being made because the White House ignored letters, emails, public protests and press conferences "condemning the secretive process to select these nominees." President Barack Obama also paid little heed to "the lack of diversity in the slate of the proposed nominees as well as concerns with the fitness of some of the candidates slated for confirmation," they wrote.
The bar associations' letter said that they had "no choice but to appear before the Senate to provide live testimony against the nomination of at least two of the [Northern District] nominees—Judge Michael P. Boggs [of the Georgia Court of Appeals] and attorney Mark Cohen [a Troutman Sanders partner]."
The other nominees for the Northern District bench are Leigh Martin May, a partner at Butler Wooten Fryhofer, and DeKalb County State Court Judge Eleanor Ross. The nominees for two open seats on the Eleventh Circuit are U.S. District Court Chief Judge Julie Carnes and Jill Pryor, a partner at Atlanta's Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore.