Washington's delegate to Congress is taking applications for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in anticipation of Judge Ricardo Urbina taking senior status.
Urbina is set to take senior status on Jan. 31. His seat would be the fifth vacancy on the court if the U.S. Senate doesn’t confirm any of the four pending nominees before then. The court handles habeas corpus cases arising from the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as many other high-profile cases.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) plans to recommend a nominee for Urbina’s seat to President Barack Obama, as she has for other vacancies during his presidency. Click here (DOC) for a copy of the application. A 17-member commission, chaired by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partner Pauline Schneider, screens the applications.
In a news release, Norton said that candidates will be evaluated on “integrity, professional skills and experience, impartiality, industry, good health, high respect in the legal and local community, respect for the Bill of Rights and for the rights of all litigants, entities and parties, judicial temperament, ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing, demonstrated commitment to equal justice, and decisiveness. Diversity is also considered in federal appointments.”
Urbina has been a federal judge since July 1994 and previously served as a D.C. Superior Court judge. He has handled several prominent cases in recent years, including those involving the release of Uighurs from Guantánamo (which he ordered), the prosecution of five former Blackwater Worldwide security guards (which he dismissed) and the latest D.C. gun regulations (which he upheld).