How do you get to the federal appellate bench? One nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit says he found out he was under consideration eight days after he interviewed for a district court opening.
Albert Diaz wrote about his selection process in response to a standard question on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire (PDF). Diaz has been a state trial judge in North Carolina since 2001, focusing on business cases since 2005. He’s also been a reserve military judge, a U.S. Marine Corps prosecutor, and an associate at Hunton & Williams.
In response to the questionnaire, Diaz wrote that he contacted newly elected Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) in January 2009 “expressing my interest in serving on the federal bench, either as a Circuit or District judge.” He later met with a lawyer for Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and successfully lined up an endorsement from the Hispanic National Bar Association.
Over the summer, Diaz had an initial meeting with White House Counsel Gregory Craig and two associate counsel and a separate meeting with Hagan. On Aug. 26, he wrote, he met with a panel advising Hagan and interviewed about a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
Then, on Sept. 3, he spoke again with Craig. The president’s top lawyer, Diaz wrote, “advised me that the President was considering nominating me to the Fourth Circuit.” Paperwork followed, along with meetings with U.S. Justice Department officials and then-Deputy White House Counsel Cassandra Butts.
Diaz doesn’t explain the switch, but it’s not the first time a nominee has written that his selection was somewhat surprising. Judge Gerard Lynch, since confirmed to the 2d Circuit, wrote to senators in April that he hadn’t solicited a nomination and first found out he was under consideration from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The White House announced Diaz’s nomination Nov. 4.