Sept. 7, 2004
NOMINATION OF MICHAEL H. WATSON TO BE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the next nomination.
The assistant legislative clerk read the nomination of Michael H. Watson, of Ohio, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Ohio.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
Mr. DEWINE. Mr. President, I take a few minutes to speak about Judge Michael H. Watson, who is from my home State of Ohio. He is from Columbus. As my colleagues are aware, President Bush nominated Judge Watson to serve as a Federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio.
I would like to take a moment to tell my Senate colleagues why I believe so strongly in his nomination. Judge Watson is exactly the sort of person we ought to have serving on the Federal bench. He has had a long and distinguished career as a public servant. He has been a judge on the 10th District Court of Appeals in Franklin County since Governor Bob Taft appointed him in May 2003.
From 1996 to 2003, Judge Watson served on the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, a position he was appointed to by then-Governor George Voinovich and to which he was re-elected twice.
In Ohio, the Common Pleas Court is the highest trial bench. It is the court that tries all the major civil and criminal cases. During his last 3 years on the trial court, Judge Watson served as administrative judge with responsibility of the administrative management of the 16-member court and its staff. He dealt with, literally, thousands of cases during his time as a State trial court judge.
Before serving on the bench, Judge Watson worked for the office of then-Governor George Voinovich-first as Deputy Chief Legal Counsel and then, from 1994 to 1995, as Chief Legal Counsel. Prior to that, he was Chief Legal Counsel to the Director of the Ohio Department of Commerce. Judge Watson also spent several years in private practice, focusing primarily on personal injury litigation, employment disputes, workers' compensation, and criminal defense.
Without question, Judge Watson has had an impressive legal career. But what really impresses me about him is how hard he has worked throughout his life. Judge Watson has genuinely lived the American dream by working hard and overcoming the odds.
Not long after high school, the Judge enlisted in the Air Force and served for over 3 years. When he was discharged, he enrolled at the Ohio State University and continued his service in the military in the Air National Guard. While in college, he married his high school sweetheart, Lori, and they had their first son when Judge Watson was a junior in college. During all this time, Judge Watson was working full-time in the Franklin County prosecuting attorney's office. That's right, Mr. President; Judge Watson was enrolled at OSU full-time, raising a family, serving in the Air National Guard, and working full-time.
When Judge Watson finished college, he enrolled in a law school night program at Capital University Law School. During the day, Judge Watson worked full-time as a court bailiff for a well-known Franklin County judge. That job evolved into a law clerk position, in which Judge Watson remained for his entire 4 years of law school.
If someone in my family or I ended up in a Federal court, I would want a judge who could relate to me. I would want a judge who knows what the real world is like for most Americans. I would want a judge who knows what it is like to struggle and what it is like to be faced with the real world. Judge Watson is that kind of judge.
Of course, I would also want a judge who knows what he is doing and who will enforce the law-and Judge Watson has clearly proven he is qualified for the job in that respect. But what Judge Watson has that makes him really outstanding, in my view, is his ability to make decisions with compassion and with a true understanding of what it is like in the real world.
Judge Watson will be a fine addition to the District Court. In his time on the Ohio Court of Common Pleas and on the Ohio Court of Appeals, Judge Watson has distinguished himself through his thoughtful legal reasoning and his great integrity. This experience and his temperament make Judge Watson highly qualified for the Federal District Court.
Senator Voinovich and I have known Michael Watson for a number of years. As I said, this is a man who is eminently qualified to serve on the Federal bench. Mike Watson currently serves on the court of appeals in Ohio. For 7 years prior to that he served on our common pleas court bench, which in Ohio is our highest trial bench. Prior to that, among other jobs, he was the chief legal counsel for then-Governor George Voinovich.
Mike Watson is an Air Force veteran. He worked his way through night law school while serving at the same time as the court bailiff in Franklin County.
This is a man who is respected by his peers and respected by the men and women who practice law in front of him. If you talk to people who practiced law in front of Judge Watson during the 7 years he served on the common pleas court bench, they will tell you this is a man of great integrity. They will tell you this is a man of great common sense, a man who works very hard, and a man of great courtesy. This is a man who has the right judicial temperament to serve on our Federal bench.
I am proud to be here this evening to recommend to my colleagues that we confirm this nomination. I am very proud to be in the Senate to speak in favor of the nomination of Michael Watson.