A different path

There’s this fella interviewing for an exciting new job as a Federal District Court judge in the District of Columbia, who turned out to know not very much about the judging.

Matthew S. Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission, was one of five of President Trump’s judicial nominees being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday when Senator John N. Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, singled him out for an interrogation.

Thus commenced what appeared to be an excruciating five minutes of ignorance on Mr. Petersen’s part, as he answered most of Senator Kennedy’s questions in the negative.

No, he had not ever handled a jury trial, or even a bench trial. In fact, he had not handled any civil or criminal trials at all, in either state or federal court.

No, he had never argued a motion in state court.

No, he could not define the Daubert standard, a well-known standard (among lawyers, anyway) for admitting expert testimony. Nor could he explain a motion in limine, a formal request to exclude certain kinds of evidence.

Mr. Petersen, who practiced election law at a firm before joining the government, and who has been nominated to the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, attempted to justify his inability to answer the questions. “I understand that the path that many successful district court judges have taken has been a different one than I’ve taken,” he said.

Ah yes, a different path; let a thousand flowers bloom, march to the beat of a different drummer, be a little bit quirky and unusual.

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