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Monday, February 1, 2010

Filling in the Fourth Circuit: Diaz and Wynn nominations proceed to full Senate.

by Kirsten Small

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send the nominations of Albert Diaz and James A. Wynn, Jr., both of North Carolina, to the Senate for a floor vote. Diaz, a former Marine with degrees from the Wharton School (B.A. Economics), NYU (J.D.), and Boston University (MBA), currently serves as one of three judges on the state's business court, a position to which he was appoined by the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Wynn is a decorated Naval officer who, like Diaz, holds three degrees: a B.A. in Journalism from UNC Chapel Hill, a J.D. from Marquette University, and an LLM in Judicial Process from UVA. Wynn has been a member of the North Carolina Court of Appeals since 1990. For Wynn, the third time may be the charm: he was nominated to the Fourth Circuit by President Clinton in 1999 and 2001. The 1999 nomination was blocked by Senator Jesse Helms, and the 2001 nomination was returned by President George W. Bush after he took office.

Wynn and Diaz join Barbara Keenan, a member of the Supreme Court of Virginia whose nomination to the Fourth Circuit was approved on October 29, 2009.

Assuming Wynn, Diaz, and Keenan are all confirmed by the full Senate, Obama nominees will hold four of the fifteen seats on the Fourth Circuit (the other Obama nominee is former U.S. District Court Judge Andre M. Davis, who was confirmed on November 9, 2009). And, the Court will be "short" only one judge, a situation that has not occurred since 1994, when the Court had 13 judges for its 15 available seats.

At this time, the nominations of judges Wynn, Diaz, and Keenan have not been scheduled for a vote on confirmation.

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