Federal judicial nominee has never tried a case, can’t answer basic legal questions

Matthew Petersen was nominated by President Trump to be a federal circuit court judge.

WASHINGTON (KSN) – It’s probably in your Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds, the federal judicial nominee who’s never tried a case and couldn’t answer basic legal questions.

The exchange came during a confirmation hearing for Matthew Petersen. He was nominated by President Trump to be a federal circuit court judge.

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy had some questions for Petersen during the hearing.

“Have you ever tried a jury trial? Civil? Criminal? Bench? State or federal court?” asked Sen. Kennedy.

Petersen answered no to all of them. Not only did Petersen not have trial experience, he also failed to recognize what legal experts say are basic concepts of law.

“For many of us who are involved in law we were a bit surprised,” said Aderson Francois, Georgetown Law School.

Francois says the U.S. District Court in Washington that Petersen is nominated to is one of the most important and complex in the country.

“I think its inexplicable that you would nominate someone from that position… who doesn’t seem prepared for the job,” said Francois.

This is not the first time lawmakers have had questions about the president’s judicial nominees.

Earlier this week, Senator Chuck Grassley, the Republican Chair of the Judiciary Committee, said two other nominees would not be confirmed over concerns about their qualifications. Francois says there’s concern in the legal community that a pattern is developing.

“It’s an extraordinarily powerful position where you have power over somebody’s life, property and freedom,” explained Francois.

Still, President Trump set a record this year for appointments to the federal bench. And the president touts that as one of the biggest accomplishments of his first year in office.


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