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Public Statements

Executive Session

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, in just a few minutes we will be voting on the nomination of Michael Barrett to serve as a Federal district court judge for the Southern District of Ohio. Mr. Barrett is an outstanding attorney, a man who has shown his dedication to public and community service throughout his life. I am confident he will be an excellent addition to the bench.

Michael Barrett's legal career--spanning almost 30 years--has been distinguished, not only by his accomplishments as a litigator but also by his truly extraordinary record of public and civic leadership.

A brief summary of his background offers ample evidence of his qualifications. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where he earned both his bachelor of arts degree as well as his law degree. After graduating from law school, Mr. Barrett served the State of Ohio as an administrative hearing officer for over a year, handling issues as a new attorney that usually are reserved for lawyers with far more experience. He then moved to the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office, where he served first as an assistant prosecutor, and then as chief assistant prosecuting attorney of the Felony Trial Division.

During this time, Mr. Barrett also served as chief of the Special County Arson Task Force, supervising the investigation and prosecution of arson cases. After 6 years in the Hamilton County prosecutor's office, Michael Barrett moved into private practice with the firm of Graydon, Head & Ritchey, where he remained for 10 years as an associate and then as a partner. He was listed several times in the Best Lawyers in America for his domestic relations practice. He then joined the Cincinnati law firm of Barrett & Weber, where he continues to practice today in the area of general litigation.

Mr. Barrett has had an extremely wide-ranging career as a litigator. He has argued in both State and Federal courts, and his court appearances are almost evenly split between civil and criminal cases. In addition to his background as a prosecutor, he has developed a very successful defense practice. He is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and I think it is particularly noteworthy that he has argued capital murder cases as both a prosecutor and as a defense attorney. Truly, his litigation experience spans the whole width of legal practice.

Mr. Barrett's expertise, however, extends well beyond litigation. For example, he was appointed and served as a special master/trustee in a class action lawsuit in which he analyzed over 900 claims, responses, and the allocation of settlement funds under that lawsuit.

He also was chosen to be the receiver in a securities case, and in that role he worked with counsel to conduct the collection and liquidation of investor assets, which is an important and certainly often very complicated financial and legal task.

He also has an impressive amount of experience with the important and expanding area of alternative dispute resolution. He was a board member of the Cincinnati Center for the Resolution of Disputes and was awarded the Outstanding Service Award as a mediator for the Southern District of Ohio. This unusually diverse legal background gives Michael Barrett a broad view of the legal system and a wide understanding that will help him be a very successful Federal district court judge.

Mr. Barrett is also an extremely accomplished community leader who has given so much back to his community. He has served the public in a wide variety of roles--far more than I could certainly mention this afternoon. He served on the Supreme Court of Ohio Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline for 15 years. He was on the board of trustees of the University of Cincinnati, and the board of trustees of the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. He was also cochair of the Police and Justice Committee of Community Action Now, a project formed by and for Cincinnati community leaders and charged with the task of achieving greater equity, opportunity, and inclusion for all Cincinnati residents. He also has been involved with a wide range of charitable and social service organizations, including Children's Services of Hamilton County, Talbert House, and Boys and Girls Hope of Cincinnati.

Michael Barrett is clearly a successful and accomplished attorney and an experienced community leader. Both are important qualifications for this position. With his background and his experience, it is certainly not surprising that a substantial majority of the ABA panel who reviewed his qualifications found him to be ``well qualified,'' which is the highest possible rating; the remaining members of the panel gave him the next highest rating of ``qualified.'' This very high rating merely confirms his excellent credentials for the position.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for 2 additional minutes.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. DeWINE. Members of the legal profession in Ohio who know Mr. Barrett's abilities also support his nomination. I have spoken with attorneys and judges who have worked both with and against Mr. Barrett professionally, and they describe him as a calm and even-tempered man, who is always willing to listen and always does an excellent job, no matter what the legal assignment.

Even more important, however, is simply that Mike Barrett is a good person. I have known him for many years, and he consistently has shown himself to be warm, open-minded, and gracious. He is an intellectually gifted lawyer with a strong sense of the law and a firm understanding of the court's role in the legal process and in our community. As a person and as an attorney, he has all the ability, the experience, and, yes, the compassion necessary to help him be an excellent judge for the people of the South District of Ohio.

Michael Barrett is an outstanding nominee. I am proud to support his nomination, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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