Judicial picks applauded by Coons and Carper

DOVER — Attorneys have been nominated to fill the two vacant spots on the bench for the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

The White House announced earlier this week Maryellen Noreika and Colm Connolly will be formally nominated to assume judgeships. Judge Sue Robinson retired from the bench Feb. 3, and Judge Gregory Sleet followed on May 1, with both assuming senior status.

The two Delawareans selected by the White House received rave reviews from Delaware’s senators, who suggested them to President Donald Trump.

“I’m pleased that the White House consulted with Senator (Thomas R.) Carper and me and accepted our recommendations for the U.S. District Court bench. I am also grateful for our Judicial Nominating Committee’s hard work in evaluating several excellent candidates,” Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat, said in a statement.

“Colm Connolly and Maryellen Noreika are seasoned attorneys, with impressive trial skills, deep experience in federal practice and profound respect for the law. I am confident that they will both be capable jurists, and I look forward to their confirmation hearings.”

Mr. Connolly, a Republican, was the U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware from 2001 to 2009. He is best known for prosecuting Tom Capano, an influential Delaware lawyer, for murder in a high-profile 1998 trial. Mr. Connolly was nominated for the same court in 2008 but did not receive a Senate hearing.

Ms. Noreika, a Democrat, is a partner at Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, in Wilmington, where she focuses on patent law.

Seeking to emulate the system used for state judges in Delaware, where a committee screens applicants, Sens. Carper and Coons took more than 20 applications and interviewed about a half-dozen people.

“This talent pool that basically stood up and said we’d like to be considered for a federal court vacancy is as good or better than any talent poll in my eight years as governor,” Sen. Carper, a Democrat, said Friday.

The senators submitted three names to the White House for the vacant spots on Aug. 10.

Although two of the four seats on the court have been empty for more than seven months, Sen. Carper said such delays are far from unusual.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware plays an important role because of Delaware’s status as a premier state for incorporations.

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