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Obama Nominates William J. Kayatta, Jr. to First Circuit

By Dyanna Quizon, Esq. on January 24, 2012 9:03 AM

We recently wondered who would replace long-time First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Kermit Lipez, and we may have gotten our answer: William J. Kayatta, Jr.

President Barack Obama announced his pick to replace Maine's only jurist on the First Circuit on Monday.

"I am proud to nominate these outstanding candidates to serve on the United States Court of Appeals," Obama wrote in a statement to the press. "I am confident [Tenth Circuit nominee] Judge Robert E. Bacharach and William J. Kayatta will serve the American people with integrity and distinction."

Kayatta was one of two names - along with Maine Supreme Judicial Court Justice Jon Levy - reportedly sent to President Obama last May by Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, but no word had come from Washington regarding a nomination since then.

Given the contentiousness of his last couple of nominations to the federal courts, especially with the controversy over D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Caitlin Halligan, perhaps the vetting process was extra stringent this time?

Kayatta seems to have all the right credentials thus far, however. A partner at the firm of Pierce Atwood LLP in Portland, Maine for the past 25 years, he was selected by the U.S. Supreme Court to currently serve as Special Master in Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado, which involves an interstate water rights dispute.

He also has the seemingly-requisite Ivy League education - magna cum laude from Harvard Law School - and clerkship experience - with Honorable Frank M. Coffin of the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We're pleased the President is moving forward with this nomination," Michard and Pingree said in a statement. "We know he's chosen an extremely qualified candidate who will be an excellent addition to the court."

Given the upcoming, undoubtedly-heated election year, however, we'll see just how long it takes for Kayatta to get through the confirmation process. You never know if any controversy will spring up along the way when it comes to judicial nominations.

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