And then there were two (vacancies).
Congratulations to Judge Gregg Jeffrey Costa, who, yesterday, moved from the district court bench to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals after a unanimous confirmation. The filled seat leaves two more vacancies, one from mid-2012, the other from the end of last year, on the Fifth Circuit bench.
Who is this new, and highly uncontroversial judge? Read on, local practitioners:
Least Controversial Appointment?
As we noted in February, though Costa was appointed to the District Court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Barack Obama, he's drawn pretty much no opposition whatsoever from the opposite side.
His district court nomination came after two Republican U.S. Senators recommended him to the president, and he was confirmed 92-2 in 2012. Two years later, the confirmation vote for the Fifth Circuit seat was even more favorable: 97-0.
Before He Was a Judge
According to the White House's press release, Judge Costa is a Texas native who taught elementary school for two years through Teach for America before heading to law school at the University of Texas. He excelled there, graduating with highest honors and serving as the Editor and Chief of the Texas Law Review.
He then clerked for Judge A. Raymond Randolph of the D.C. Circuit (a Republican appointee) before spending a year as the Bristol Fellow at the Office of the Solicitor General in the United States Department of Justice.
How does one top a trip to the Solicitor General's office? By clerking for Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the United States Supreme Court.
He followed up his clerkships with a few years in BigLaw at Weil, Gotshal & Manges before heading to the U.S. Attorney's Office, where he was one of the lead prosecutors of R. Allen Stanford, the perpetrator of the second-largest Ponzi scheme of all time.
Unfinished Business (Or "What About My Case?")
If you have a pending matter before Judge Costa in the Galveston, Texas federal district court, the court's website states he will continue to hear some matters by designation, while others will be transferred to a district judge in Houston.
Parties in civil cases may also consent to have U.S. Magistrate Court Judge John Froeschner preside over their cases.
- Stephen Higginson Confirmed for Fifth Circuit in Unanimous Vote (FindLaw's U.S. Fifth Circuit Blog)
- BP Reaches Out to Supreme Court in Oil Spill Appeal (FindLaw's U.S. Fifth Circuit Blog)
- 5th Cir. Stays Execution Because Texas D.A. Withheld IQ Tests (FindLaw's U.S. Fifth Circuit Blog)