Senate confirms Tulsa attorney's appointment as federal judge
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
12/12/12 at 7:49 AM
The U.S. Senate finally filled a vacancy on the bench of Oklahoma's Northern District federal court on Tuesday, confirming the nomination of Tulsa attorney John Dowdell 95-0.
The judgeship has been open since District Judge Terence Kern took senior status nearly three years ago, in January 2010. The White House and Oklahoma's two Republican senators had difficulty agreeing on a nominee until Dowdell's name was put forward at the end of February.
The nomination became bogged down in politics, however, as Senate Republicans tried to run out the clock on what they hoped would be President Barack Obama's only term. With Obama's November re-election, confirmations have resumed.
After Dowdell's confirmation on a recorded vote, Jesus Bernal was confirmed on a voice vote to a judgeship in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who spoke on Dowdell's behalf, said, "I applaud the Senate's confirmation today of John Dowdell."
"Although it often seems like I am on the opposite side of many of this administration's judicial nominees, I can say with confidence that this is not the case with Mr. Dowdell," Inhofe said. "Mr. Dowdell has the requisite experience and judicial temperament to make a fine judge."
A Tulsa native, Dowdell has been with the firm Norman Wohlgemuth Chandler & Dowdell since 1983. His legal specialities are listed as complex litigation and appellate litigation, but he has also provided indigent defense counsel.
Dan Webber, a former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, was among a group that went to Washington last summer to lobby the Senate to move on judicial nominations and said Tuesday that he is glad Dowdell was finally able to get a vote.
"He will make a great judge," Webber said. "It is sad that the confirmation had to take this long due to partisan politics that reached new lows, even for an election year."
Various groups continue to pressure Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to allow votes on four appellate court nominees, including Robert Bacharach of Oklahoma City, but it appears those won't be considered until the new Congress convenes after the first of the year.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in a written statement, called for the confirmation of Bacharach and the others.
"Both of these nominees (Dowdell and Bernal) were voted out of the Judiciary Committee by voice vote before the August recess and should have been confirmed months ago," Leahy said.
"With the ... re-election of President Obama, there is no good purpose to be served by this further delay."
Also awaiting confirmation is Patrick J. Wilkerson, who has been nominated to be U.S. marshal for the Tulsa-based Eastern District of Oklahoma. Wilkerson is assistant federal security director for the Transportation Security Administration at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City and was U.S. marshal for the Western District of Oklahoma from 1994 to 2002.
Original Print Headline: Tulsa attorney's appointment as judge confirmed
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
John Dowdell: His nomination for judgeship was confirmed Tuesday after the process became bogged down in politics