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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

EXECUTIVE SESSION -- (Senate - October 04, 2007)


Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I support the nomination of Jennifer Walker Elrod for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. She has an excellent academic record: magna cum laude from Baylor, where she was Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude from Harvard Law School. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Houston Law Center. She has been in the practice of law for some 15 years, spending 8 years at the law firm Baker Botts. She has done extensive pro bono work including as general counsel for the Communities in Schools in Houston. She has extensive participation in the bar association. She's a member of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Houston and the Houston Bar Association. I believe her record qualifies her for the circuit court, notwithstanding the considerations of age and experience.

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, will my colleague yield for one clarification on that point?

Mr. SPECTER. I do.

Mr. CARDIN. I want to make it clear for the record that I have never at all challenged this nominee for the appellate court on age. I have never raised the issue of age, and I would never raise the issue of age.

Mr. SPECTER. I thank the Senator from Maryland for that statement.

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod was nominated to a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on March 29, 2007, and a hearing was held on her nomination on July 19, 2007. Her nomination was reported favorably to the full Senate on September 20, 2007.

Judge Elrod received her B.A., magna cum laude, in economics from Baylor University in 1988, where she was Phi Beta Kappa and was named the ``Outstanding Graduating Senior in the Honors Program.''

In 1992, she received her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School. At Harvard, she was a senior editor and the assistant business manager for the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and she was a finalist in the James Barr Ames Moot Court Competition.

After law school, Judge Elrod served as a law clerk to Judge Sim Lake of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Following her clerkship, Judge Elrod practiced law in the litigation department of Baker Botts in Houston, TX.

In 2002, Governor Rick Perry appointed Judge Elrod to the 190th District Court in Harris County, TX, a State trial court. She was subsequently elected to the position in the 2002 general election and was reelected unopposed in 2006.

During her time on the bench, Judge Elrod presided over more than 200 jury and nonjury trials.

Judge Elrod has been dedicated to pro bono service and charitable causes her entire career. While working at Baker Botts, the firm gave her the Thomas Gibbs Gee Award for outstanding pro bono work. She also received the President's Award from the Houston Bar Association for Outstanding Service to the Bar.

While in private practice, Judge Elrod served as a board member and the chair of the board of the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation, now Lone Star Legal Aid, which is one of the largest providers of legal aid services to the poor in Texas.

The vacancy to which she is nominated is considered a ``judicial emergency'' by the nonpartisan Administrative Office of the Courts.

The American Bar Association unanimously rated Judge Elrod ``qualified.''


Richard Jones comes to the Senate with an extraordinary record. He has been in the active practice of law since graduating from the University of Washington Law School in 1975; has been a prosecuting attorney for King County, WA; staff attorney for the Port of Seattle legal department. He has extensive community service activities with the board of directors of the YMCA in greater Seattle, and was president of that organization; and has been recommended by the American Bar Association as unanimously ``well qualified.''

President Bush nominated Judge Richard A. Jones to be a U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington on March 19, 2007. A hearing was held on his nomination on July 19, and the Judiciary Committee reported his nomination favorably on September 6.

He is an experienced litigator and jurist with an extensive record of public service.

Judge Jones graduated from Seattle University in 1972. He graduated from the University of Washington School of Law in 1975.

After law school, he worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office. There he prosecuted a wide variety of cases in matters ranging from DWI to murder prosecutions.

In 1978, he became a staff attorney with the Port of Seattle Legal Department. There he served as one of two in-house counsel providing legal advice and management services to all legal departments, with primary responsibility for the human resources, police, and fire departments.

In 1983, Judge Jones joined Bogle and Gates, one of the oldest and largest firms in Seattle, as an associate. There he managed cases in the firm's litigation and labor departments, primarily in the area of corporate commercial litigation.

From 1988 to 1994, Judge Jones served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington. His work there entailed investigating and prosecuting major crimes such as bank robberies and fraud, as well as several years of work with the Drug Prosecution Division of the U.S. attorney's office.

In 1994, he was appointed King County Superior Court Judge to fill the term of a deceased judge. He was elected to that position in 1996 and re-elected in 2000 and 2004. His caseload has involved an extensive variety of civil, criminal, and juvenile matters. He also briefly served as Acting U.S. Magistrate for the court to which he is nominated in 1995 and 1997.

In 2004, Judge Jones was the recipient of both the King County Bar Association's Judge of the Year Award and the Washington State Bar Association's Outstanding Judge of the Year Award.

Throughout his legal career, Judge Jones has shown a strong commitment to the community. He served not only as president of the Loren Miller Bar Association, but also as president of the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

The American Bar Association has unanimously rated Judge Jones ``Well Qualified.''


I further recommend Sharion Aycock for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi. Again, a fine academic record, with 27 years of law practice, with her bachelor's degree from Mississippi State University and a member of two honor societies, and Co-Editor in Chief of the Mississippi College Law Review. She has been a judge on the First Circuit Court for the District of Mississippi for the last 4 years, was the board attorney for the town of Tremont, and prosecuting attorney for Itawamba County. Judge Aycock brings substantial qualifications and the American Bar Association rated her unanimously ``well qualified.''

Judge Sharion Aycock was nominated to be a U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of Mississippi on March 19, 2007. A hearing was held on her nomination on July 19, 2007. Her nomination was reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee on September 6, 2007. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to be appointed to the Federal district court in Mississippi.

Judge Aycock received her B.A. from Mississippi State University in 1977
where she was a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Societies. She received her J.D. from Mississippi College School of Law in 1980 and served as Co-Editor in Chief of the Mississippi College Law Review.

Upon graduation from law school, Judge Aycock joined the A.T. Cleveland Law Office as an associate, where she worked from 1980 until 1983.

In 1984, Judge Aycock opened her own practice in Fulton County and represented a wide range of clients, including some of the largest and most successful businesses in the county.

Between 1987 and 1989, she formed a small partnership with three other attorneys and practiced under the firm name of Soper, Russell, Richardson and Dent, P.A.; however, they did not share office space, and she remained in her original office. In 1990, they dissolved the partnership, and Judge Aycock resumed her former sole practice.

While working as a sole practitioner, Judge Aycock represented a variety of government entities on a part-time basis.

She served as the board attorney for her hometown, Tremont, MS, from 1980 until 2002 and for the city of Fulton from 1998 to 2002. She was elected to serve as the prosecuting attorney for Itawamba County in 1984 and served until 1992.

Judge Aycock also served as the attorney for the Board of Supervisors for Itawamba County from 1993 to 2002, the board attorney for the Itawamba County School District from 1984 to 1999, and the attorney for the Board of Commissioners for the Mantachie Natural Gas District from 1986 to 2002.

In 2002, Judge Aycock was elected as Circuit Court Judge for the First Circuit Court District of Mississippi. She ran unopposed and was reelected in 2006. Her term is set to expire in 2010.

The American Bar Association Standing Committee has rated Judge Aycock unanimously ``well qualified.''


The fourth judge up for consideration also brings excellent credentials, Roslynn Renee Mauskopf: Magna cum laude from Brandeis in 1979, and cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center. She has experience as an assistant district attorney in New York County. She was New York State Inspector General for 7 years and chair of the Governor's Moreland Act Commission on the New York City schools for 3 years.

Roslynn R. Mauskopf was nominated in the last Congress, but her nomination was not acted upon prior to its adjournment. She was renominated on January 9, 2007. A hearing was held on her nomination on April 11, 2007, and the Judiciary Committee reported her nomination favorably on July 19.

Ms. Mauskopf is a highly qualified nominee with excellent credentials and a distinguished record of public service.

In 1979, she received her B.A. degree from Brandeis University, graduating magna cum laude. In 1982, she graduated cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center.

After law school, Ms. Mauskopf served as an Assistant District Attorney for New York County until 1995.

Between 1995 and 2002, she served as New York State's Inspector General, leading the State office responsible for investigating corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest, and other misconduct in State executive branch agencies.

Between 1999 and 2002, she also chaired the Governor's Moreland Act Commission on New York City Schools, which examined the operations and fiscal affairs of the New York City Board of Education and the New York City School Construction Authority.

Since 2002, Ms. Mauskopf has served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

The daughter of Holocaust survivors, she has dedicated herself to promoting Holocaust remembrance. Her mother, at age 90, attended her daughter's nomination hearing before the Judiciary Committee.

The American Bar Association has unanimously rated Ms. Mauskopf ``Qualified.''

How much time remains, Mr. President?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 11 minutes 10 seconds.

Mr. SPECTER. I yield the floor, and I reserve the remainder of my time.

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