On June 1, Jim Carr, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio, took senior status. That opened the door to a new judge. This afternoon, Senators Brown (D) and Voinovich (R) announced that they are recommending that President Obama nominate Jeffrey Helmick for the position.
The personal note is simple. Jeff Helmick is the Helmick of Gamso, Helmick & Hoolahan. He's a friend, a colleague. We've worked together on cases. I've seen him in practice. I've got nothing but respect for him.
He doesn't come to this nomination as a prosecutor (state or federal, current or former). He doesn't come from a state bench or from the theoretical halls of the academy. He's a practicing lawyer.
He's stood up with, tried cases on behalf of, fought for the rights of, people who need help: The victim of discrimination, the accused, the convicted, the reviled.
If he is nominated and confirmed, Jeff won't rule as I'd like him to on every case. If he did, I'd be delighted. But if he were someone who would do that, he wouldn't deserve the seat. As a judge, his duty will not be to make Gamso happy (dammit all) but to follow the law, and he'll do that.
But he'll listen. He'll take it seriously.
He won't be dazzled by the display. He knows that the guys with the badge and the folks with the $800 an hour lawyer aren't always right or truthful. No more than the guys are on my side of the aisle. He knows that the harshest possible sentence isn't always the most appropriate sentence. Public distaste and fear cannot drive judicial decisions, and he knows that.
Jeff will, if he is nominated and confirmed, be a terrific judge. I'm delighted.