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Wright hearing

Live Blog: Wilhelmina Wright confirmation hearing

Committee is adjourned. Watch the archived video of the hearing here (the hearing starts about 21 mins. in)

10:33 Klobuchar helps Xinis by pointing out that as review officer she might not be familiar with terms such as community policing. Now the meeting is adjourned but the record will be left open for a week.

10:31 Sessions makes it clear that he does not believe the courts are the most important branch and is concerned about judges making policy.

10:25  Sessions is now asking Wright about a law review article where she talked about racism and property. He asks her how she considers property as a federal judge. Wright says the question goes to the question of fairness and also reminds him that the law review article is over 25 years old and she wrote it as a law student.  Her concern in the article was about restrictive covenants that prevented people from buying property.  “I did so inartfully,” Wright said. Sessions asked if she would respect property rights as a judge.  She said yes, absolutely

10:11 Sessions is impressed with Xinis. He asked her if she agrees that a disorderly neighborhood is bad for people and police have a responsibility to try to maintain a safe and orderly environment. She replies that police have a hard job with a complicated and delicate balance.  Sessions pushes her, asking about whether the judge should feel empathy for law enforcement as well as other defendants. Now he talking about her experience as a reviewer of police complaints in  D.C. and recommended all of them for discipline.   He is giving her a hard time, expressing surprise she is not familiar with the “broken windows” policy of policing. She replied that her job was to review the cases in front of her . Sessions wants to know that she understands police work and that police don’t want federal judges second guessing them.  She replies that she has a reputation for open-mindedness and integrity. “Can you assure police officers a fair day in court?”  Xinis’ office is representing Freddy Gray and Sessions wants to know if she would not bring her agenda to the bench.   Xinis replies that there is no agenda for a well-trained judge and she wouldn’t have one.  He replies that theory is one thing but human nature is another

10:07 Forgot to mention that Klobuchar told Grassley that “they’d even like (Wright) in Iowa.”

10:00 Franken is questioning Wright about Gideon and the right to counsel.  Many misdemeanor defendants do not have counsel and Franken shares Wright’s concern about it. Its an important part of the discussion about mass incarceration.  What do we do about that?  Wright says that its important that leaders impress upon lawyers and decision-makers about the importance of access to legal services.  Franken says Minnesota is better than other states and Wright agrees, mentioning the Legal Rights Center.  Anyone who is facing jail time should have an opportunity to have counsel.  If a party proceeds pro se, the judge must remain neutral but also insure a fair trial.  Jeff Sessions thanks Franken

9:59 Klobuchar questioned Vasquez and Namarato

9:52 Amy Klobuchar is now speaking. She is asking about the differences in the federal courts and whether the Supreme Court experience would assist her. She is saying that as a trial judge it is very helpful to understand how appellate judges look at cases and the importance of the trial record. She also has trial court experience as a federal prosecutor and in private practice.  Klobuchar says that only 2 percent of cases that Wright has authored or joined have been reversed. She then asks Wright about pro bono work.  She says that in Minnesota we have a robust contributon of pro bono work. As a judge, she cannot represent clients but she can represent the judiciary and educate persons about the legal system.

9:50  Grassley is questioning Namarato

9:46 He’s moved on to Justice Wright.  He says that she said there was a perception that justice is only for the fortunate or wealthy. He asked if judges have a responsibility to change that perception.  She said she doesn’t think judges have the responsibility to change people but when she can she explains that judges in Minnesota apply equal justice under the law

9:44  Grassley is starting the questioning with Xinis.  He asked her if she would impose concurrent sentencing.

9:41 Now the assistant attorney general nominee, Cono Namarato, is speaking

9:36 Now Paula Xinis is speaking.

9:32  Justice Wright is giving her opening statement and introduced her husband and mother. “They told us to dream big and then supported us.”  Her brother is also present, along with her aunt, uncle, and cousin.  “There are lots of supporters. I understand Minnesota Lawyer is doing a live feed so I had better do well.”

9:37  The nominees are coming forward and Senator Grassley is going to introduce an assistant attorney general candidate. He has sworn in the nominees.

9:24  Now Senator Al Franken is speaking.  He says the  selection advisory committee interviewed a deep bench before selecting Justice Wright.  He says she has impeccable credentials and a deep commitment to to justice.

Wright is the first judge in Minnesota to serve on all three courts. She is ready for the district court on her first day of the job.  Klobuchar said Wright is the first African American to serve but she meant to say the first African American woman.

9:18 Amy Klobuchar is now speaking about Justice Wright.  She mentions that Wright has wide service in various courts and as a federal prosecutor. Wright’s introduction to the law was watching her mother fight school segregation.

9:15  On to New Jersey, John Vazqueaz

9:13 Senator Benjamin Cardin is talking about the nominee,  Paul Xinis

9:08  We’re hearing from Barbara Mikulski about a nominee from Maryland

9:00 We’re waiting for the hearing to start….

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