Basic Legal Questions Stump Trump Judicial Nominee

Trump Federal Judge Nominee Can't Answer Basic Legal Questions

A Democratic senator took to Twitter Thursday night to highlight the apparent inability of a Trump judicial nominee to answer basic questions about the law.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) posted about Petersen's testimony on Twitter, expressing shock at his flimsy qualifications for an appointment as a federal judge. John Kennedy, R-La., that he had never tried a case in court.

Watch a video of the exchange shared by Sen. Have you ever tried a jury trial?

"I have not", the nominee responded. "I have not." Civil, criminal, or bench?

Sen. Kennedy: State or federal court?

Sen. Kennedy: Have you ever taken a deposition by yourself?

Petersen: Probably somewhere in that range. You'll see that a lot in federal court.

Kennedy then started on legal terminology, asking Petersen if he knows what the Daubert standard is.

PETERSEN: I'd be struggling to remember. We do have at the FEC roughly 70 attorneys who work under our guidance, including a large litigation division. The rules are amended and republished every year. "Well, comprehensively, would have been in law school", Petersen said.

"I don't have that readily at my disposal", Petersen said.

Kennedy cut him off.

A motion in limine is, by the way, a request filed by a party to a lawsuit which asks the court for an order or ruling limiting or preventing certain evidence from being presented by the other side at the trial of the case. He is being questioned - politely but insistently - by John Kennedy, a Republican Senator from Louisiana. Petersen said he had "heard of it". "I understand the challenge ahead of me if I were fortunate enough to become a district court judge".

When Kennedy pressed if Peterson was aware of what a motion in limine is, the judicial nominee said essentially he would have a lot to learn as a new judge. Prior to that, he briefly served as counsel to the RNC as well as counsel to two congressional panels.

He was appointed to the Federal Election Commission in 2008 by President George W. Bush. So he helped kill the nomination by announcing, in late November, that he'd vote against Talley on the Senate floor "in a heartbeat" - and suggested that he was concerned with the advice Trump was getting on judicial nominees.

"Don't want to beat up on the guy but the questions he was being asked could be answered by a second year law student", wrote Aderson Francois, a professor at Georgetown Law.

Another added, "This is like me applying to be a doctor".

A court would abstain in order to give deference to the other court's forthcoming ruling, or to avoid the inefficiency of two courts grappling with the same issue, Cheng said. "This is pretty devastating".

Petersen is the only one to raise his hand. During his 11 months in office, Trump has nominated four candidates deemed "unqualified" by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee of the Federal Judiciary, which has been evaluating judges since the 1950s. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) urged the Trump administration to withdraw its nominations of Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer, nominated to district courts in Alabama and Texas, respectively.

No one is accusing Petersen of making controversial or insensitive remarks. Okay. Any of you blog?

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