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Bush Appoints New Attorney General

He may not have been on any of the early predictions for a new attorney general, but Michael Mukasey has won the nomination nonetheless as reported in this AP story, President Bush Chooses Retired Federal Judge Mukasey for Attorney General (9/16/07). According to the report, Bush chose Mukasey in part to avoid a confirmation fight. Mukasey has 18 years of experience as a federal judge, as well as specific experience with trials involving accused terrorists. But Mukasey, presently a judicial adviser to Republican adviser to presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, does not always tow the conservative line when it comes to the war on terror. As Andrew Sullivan writes here, Mukasey supported alleged enemy combatant Jose Padilla's right to consult with counsel -- a position opposed by the Bush administration.

Judge Mukasey is apparently well known in legal circles, because at least two bloggers have offered personal commentaries based on their own experiences with Mukasey. At Balkinization, Jack Balkin comments that while he doesn't agree with Mukasey on many issues (Balkin finds Mukasey leans more toward compromising civil rights to where needed to protect national security), Balkin asserts that Mukasey is "highly qualified." Among other things, Mukasey has a "judicious personality" -- he listens carefully to all arguments -- and he "cares about the law and what it provides." Balkin believes that Mukasey will help address the crisis of morale within DOJ that hasn't been seen since the Watergate era.

Scott Greenfield also shares a story about Mukasey at Simple Justice. Greenfield writes that:

During his last year on the bench, I had a case before Judge Mukasey.  It went through a hard-fought suppression hearing, where my client risked the enhancement for obstruction of justice by doing the unthinkable, challenging the veracity of a federal agent.  The defendant, who had a criminal history level of 4, was tired of letting cops and agents lie about what happened without anyone taking them to task.  He was getting on in years, and wanted to take a stand.  It was a dream for a criminal defense lawyer, being in the position of fighting the good fight, risking everything for the truth with a client who knew which end was up and still willing to take his chances.   My experience before Judge Mukasey left me with three distinct impressions.  First, he was highly intelligent.  Second, he was a judge of integrity.  Third, he was definite federal judge material, meant in that slightly sarcastic yet pejorative sense.

Though Greenfield ultimately lost before Mukasey, he felt that Mukasey fairly considered all of his arguments. Greenfield notes that we can't expect "to get an AG whose concern for constitutional rights of defendants supersedes their support for law enforcement." But we'd be fortunate to get an AG like Mukasey who has integrity and intelligence and can serve as "an honest broker."

Do any other readers have a Judge Mukasey story to share? Feel free to post it below.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 17, 2007 at 06:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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