WASHINGTON — Richard F. Boulware II, a federal public defender in Las Vegas, was nominated by President Barack Obama Thursday to become a U.S. District judge in Nevada.
“He’s the man,” said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who proposed the attorney to the White House after considering candidates for the post. Boulware also met the approval of Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.
Asked what he liked about Boulware, Reid said, “Everything.”
Boulware, 45, is an assistant attorney at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Las Vegas, and a former officer in the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP.
Calls to Boulware’s office were referred to Reid’s office in Washington.
If confirmed by the Senate, the Nevada native would fill a vacancy that has existed since U.S. District Court Judge Philip Pro took senior status in December 2011.
Obama nominated Clark County judge Elissa Cadish to the seat in February 2012, but her confirmation was blocked by Heller as questions arose about her views on Second Amendment gun rights. Cadish withdrew her nomination in March 2013.
Reid said he “thought about a few other” prospects for federal judge, who hears matters and conducts trials related to violations of federal law. But he said he soon focused on Boulware.
He said he spoke with a number of Las Vegas judges about the attorney.
“They thought he was just so good, and public defenders usually are not the judges’ favorites,” Reid said.
After deciding on Boulware, Reid sent his name to Heller, who met with the candidate and signed off on the choice.
“After sitting down with Mr. Boulware and discussing his nomination at length, I found him to be extremely impressive,” Heller said in a statement. “I feel that he is an excellent choice for the District of Nevada, and I am confident that he will serve Nevada well.”
Heller said he would sign the “blue slip” paperwork the Senate Judiciary Committee requires to proceed with the nomination. He declined to do that for Cadish.
Rep. Stephen Horsford, D-Nev., said he called Boulware with congratulations.
“He brings a decade of experience and a sharp perspective of the law to the bench,” Horsford said. “Nevada will benefit greatly from his appointment.”
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., also backed the nomination.
“Richard Boulware’s excellent legal credentials and leadership in the community make him an outstanding candidate for the U.S. District Court,” she said.
Boulware would become the second African American to serve on the federal bench in Nevada, though Reid aides said that was not a factor in his selection. That was Johnnie Rawlinson of Las Vegas, who became a federal judge in 1997 and now sits on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Boulware will undergo vetting by the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also will be evaluated by an American Bar Association subcommittee.
Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law who follows the Senate’s handling of judicial matters, said Boulware seems well-positioned for confirmation.
“I think he is well-qualified, and he brings both ethnic diversity and diversity of practice,” said Tobias, a former Las Vegan who taught at the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
“People ask why do we have all these prosecutors appointed, and he’s been a federal public defender,” Tobias said. “That gives you a different perspective. That kind of diversity and balance is a positive thing.”
Boulware has worked as a federal public defender since 2007, with a focus on complex white collar crime cases since 2010. From 2003 to 2007 he was a trial lawyer at the Federal Defenders of New York, a nonprofit that provides free representation to accused clients in the Southern and Eastern Districts in New York City.
He was law clerk to Judge Denise Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York from 2002-2003. He received his law degree in 2002 from Columbia Law School and a bachelor of arts degree in 1993 from Harvard College.
In Las Vegas, Boulware is a past president of the local chapter of the National Bar Association, and is on the board of the bar association foundation that provides scholarships to minority law students.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow @STetreaultDC on Twitter.