Rossman Nomination to 10th Circuit Heads to Senate Vote

An 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling held up a lower court’s award of $106 million in a decades-long case involving bad actors and a bank's involvement in a Ponzi-like scheme.

Denver lawyer Veronica Rossman is one step closer to becoming a federal judge. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Thursday her nomination to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The vote to favorably report her candidacy to the full chamber was 12-10. Every member of the majority Democratic Party on the committee, along with South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, voted aye, while every other Republican on the panel voted no.

Committee chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois lauded Rossman’s career and readiness for the bench before the vote. Ranking member Chuck Grassley of Iowa, by contrast, criticized Rossman’s experience and unwillingness to articulate a philosophy of constitutional interpretation that matches his preference. 

“I’ve seen no evidence that either nominee is a constitutionalist,” Grassley said. “ If they’ve thought hard about jurisprudence, they sure won’t tell this committee about it. And that’s just not good enough.” 

He referred to Rossman’s fellow appellate court nominee, Eunice Lee, who is slated to sit on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The administration’s fixation on one kind of professional diversity – career federal defenders – may be resulting in nominees who simply don’t have the breadth of experience to acquit themselves on the generalist courts,” Grassley continued.

Rossman was an associate at Morrison & Foerster for four years and for two more years at a Boulder law firm. She served as a staff lawyer for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in addition to her work for the Federal Public Defender of Colorado and Wyoming and. Rossman’s career began with a stint as a law clerk to a Nevada Supreme Court justice. 

She also served as a visiting professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. 

Lee also has experience as a legal academic, having been an adjunct assistant professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law for 16 years.

If confirmed, Rossman will replace Judge Carlos Lucero. Lee would replace the late Judge Robert Katzmann.

Rossman, a refugee from the former Soviet Union, is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of California Hastings College of Law. More than 90 Colorado lawyers wrote the Judiciary Committee in support of her nomination to the bench. 

The committee also reported favorably Thursday the nominations of three nominees to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. 

The committee voted to approve David Estudillo, a state court judge with Republican ties, by a 15-7 margin and Lauren King, who would become only the third Native American jurist on the federal bench, on a 13-9 vote. The nomination of Tana Lin, a partner at a Seattle law firm and the president of the American Civil Liberties Union’s chapter in the Evergreen State, was voted out of committee on an 11-10 margin.

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