Nominees for 7th Circuit’s Illinois seats to testify Wednesday

The latest nominees to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals — a native Hoosier who worked on intelligence and terrorism matters in the George W. Bush administration and a judge who presided over a trial with Donald Trump as the defendant — are scheduled to appear Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Michael Y. Scudder, Jr., partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP in Chicago and Judge Amy J. St. Eve of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois were nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the judicial vacancies created by the retirements of Richard Posner and Ann Claire Williams, respectively. Scudder and St. Eve will testify together at the hearing, which will start at 10 a.m.If they are confirmed, Scudder and St. Eve will fill the last vacancies on the Chicago appellate court.Former full-time Notre Dame Law School professor Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed in October 2017, filled the seat left open by Judge John Tinder’s retirement. Her investiture ceremony was held in February at the Notre Dame.

Former Wisconsin state court judge Michael Brennan has been nominated to fill the seat of Judge Terence Evans, who took senior status in January 2010. Brennan was approved by the Judiciary Committee and is awaiting a vote by the full Senate.

According to their questionnaires submitted to the judiciary committee, both Scudder and St. Eve were contacted by the White House Counsel’s Office about their interest in applying for the 7th Circuit judgeships. They also were interviewed by the White House before they met with Illinois Sens. Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.

According to Alliance for Justice, Durbin and Duckworth have since returned their blue slips, supporting the nominations of Scudder and St. Eve.  

Scudder was born and raised in Fort Wayne. He graduated summa cum laude from Saint Joseph’s College in 1993 and then returned to his hometown to work as an accountant at Ernst & Young LLP. After graduating magna cum laude from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law 1998, he clerked for Judge Paul Niemeyer of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.

From 2002 to 2009, he worked in public service. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and he served in the U.S. Department of Justice before moving to the Bush White House. In 2009, he returned to private practice at his current firm.

At the Justice Department, Scudder was part of the then-newly formed national security team. His responsibilities included helping to implement various intelligence and information-sharing reforms instituted after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He also oversaw the work of the department’s Regime Crimes Liaison Office in Iraq.

At the White House, he became the senior associate counsel to the president and general counsel to the National Security Council. His duties eventually focused on working with the NSC staff on terrorism, intelligence, defense and foreign policy matters.

St. Eve, a native of Belleville, Illinois, received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, cum laude, and her J.D. degree from Cornell Law School, magna cum laude.

After a stint in private practice, she joined the Office of the Independent Counsel in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1994, and two years later because an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. She returned to the private sector to serve as general counsel for Abbott Laboratories before being nominated and confirmed on a voice vote to the federal bench in 2002.

Introducing St. Eve during her 2002 confirmation hearing, former Illinois Sen. Peter Fitzgerald called her an “outstanding candidate for the federal district court.” He told the committee that as the associate independent counsel for the Whitewater Independent Counsel, St. Eve was part of the team that successfully prosecuted former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, Jim McDougal and Susan McDougal for fraud.

St. Eve has presided over 123 trials since becoming a federal judge.

Her most significant cases included the 2008 criminal case against real estate developer Tony Rezko in United States v. Levine, 05-CR-691 (N.D. Ill.). He was accused of using his influence with now-disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to defraud the people of Illinois. The trial lasted more than three months and ended with Rezko being convicted of 16 counts of mail or wire fraud, bribery, and money laundering. St. Eve sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

Also, she presided over the case brought by Jacqueline Goldberg against Trump Tower in Chicago and its developer, 401 N. Wabash Venture LLC. Goldberg had purchased two condominiums in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. She sued when the Trump organization made several changes to the purchase agreement after she signed it. In Goldberg v. 401 North Wabash Venture LLC, 09-cv-6455 (N.D. Ill.), the jury and St. Eve found for the defendants in the claims made under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, the Federal Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, and the Illinois Condominium Act, as well as the charge of breach of contract. The 7th Circuit affirmed in 2014.

St. Eve has also sat by designation on the 7th, 9th, and Federal circuit courts of appeals.

One of her most recent cases while sitting by designation was U.S. v. Mohamed, 759 F.3d 798 (7th Cir. 2014) which came from Indiana. The panel held the government had not submitted sufficient evidence to prove under the Indiana Cigarette Tax Act that the defendant intended to use and sell the cigarettes he had in his possession.    


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