United States Senator
March 10, 2004
Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
Judicial Nominations Hearing
March 10, 2004
I am pleased today to be able to introduce and recommend Peter Hall to the Committee. The President has nominated him to fill our vacancy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He currently serves as our United States Attorney and has the strong support of Governor Douglas and the entire Vermont delegation. I thank Chairman Hatch for holding a hearing on this nomination, which I believe is one that has widespread support.
Before I say more about Peter Hall, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to his predecessor, the late Fred Parker. Judge Parker was appointed to the United States District Court for Vermont in 1990 by the first President Bush on the strong recommendation of Senator Jeffords and with my support. He was then appointed to the Vermont seat on the Second Circuit by President Clinton on my recommendation and with the strong support of Senator Jeffords. He was a good man, a good lawyer and a good judge. From the time we met in law school at Georgetown, until his untimely death last year, Fred Parker was a man of integrity and intelligence. He served the courts and the people of Vermont with dedication and fairness, and he will be missed.
Peter Hall has big shoes to fill, but from what I know about him, he is up to the job. Peter had the nerve to be born in Connecticut and to go all the way to North Carolina for college and to attend law school in New York. Fortunately he came to his senses as soon as he graduated from law school and was privileged to clerk for the well-respected Judge Albert Coffrin of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont. He has been in Vermont ever since.
His career and the exemplary way he has served the United States Government and the law are to be admired. After completing his clerkship with Judge Coffrin, Peter joined the United States Attorney's office in Vermont, and was a federal prosecutor for the next 18 years, rising to the position of First Assistant and then later being named United States Attorney. During those years he has gained invaluable trial experience so beneficial for any judge, and learned about federal criminal law. But his resume is not limited to government service. In 1986 he began a 15-year career in the private practice of law, focusing on civil practice, with a particular emphasis on mediation. He also used his time during that period to serve the bar, providing ethics training to Vermont State prosecutors, and holding the office of the President of the Vermont Bar Association, where he advocated for funding for public defenders and equal access to justice. He also found time for pro bono work, getting involved in the Vermont family court system and serving as guardian ad litem for children caught up in disputes between their parents.
In 2001, President Bush nominated Peter Hall to be the United States Attorney for Vermont. His record in that office is one of a tough but fair prosecutor. I supported Peter's nomination to that position and support him now.
Let there be no misunderstanding about Peter's party affiliation. Peter Hall is a Republican. From 1986 to 1993 he was variously a member of the Town of Chittenden, Rutland County, and State of Vermont Republican Party Committees, and he is a member of the National Republican Party. He has helped run statewide Republican campaigns, and was an elected Republican official for five years, holding one of the most important offices a citizen can hold in Vermont, as a Member of the Select Board of his town, the Town of Chittenden. He was recommended to the President by Vermont's Republican Governor. As Governor Douglas notes in his letter of support for this nomination, Peter is "a dedicated public servant, a strong leader and will be an asset to the Second Circuit." I ask that the letter be included in the record.
Equally clear, however, is his commitment to the law, to fair judging and to leaving any partisan label or interest at the courthouse door. Peter Hall is the type of nominee this President should send us more often. He is universally respected and is someone in the nature of a consensus selection. He has proven himself over long years of federal service and private practice to be the sort of straight-shooting, fair-minded person that any litigant in a federal courtroom can be confident will give him a fair hearing and a fair shake. I wish as much could be said about some of the more controversial nominees this President has sent us over the last four years.
As I hope I made clear, Peter's qualifications, experience and support across the political spectrum makes him the kind of consensus nominee who proves that when there is thoughtful consideration and collaboration, this process can work. I look forward to his testimony today.
# # # # #