WASHINGTON — Evan J. Wallach, a federal judge and former Las Vegas attorney, got a welcoming reception Wednesday from a U.S. Senate committee as it considers elevating him in the judiciary.
Wallach was nominated in July to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears specialized cases involving patent and trade laws, government contracts, federal personnel and veterans benefits.
Wallach, a native of Arizona, was an attorney at the Las Vegas firm of Lionel, Sawyer & Collins from 1976 until 1995, when he was confirmed to become a judge on the New York-based Court of International Trade.
The nominee told the Senate Judiciary Committee his 16 years as a federal trade judge "obviously is specialized work, but the essence is the same" as an appeals judge.
"A judge should look at (a case), try to know the background, read what record you have in front of you, learn the law and be prepared for a hearing," said Wallach, who was rated "unanimously well qualified" by the American Bar Association.
Wallach told senators he tries to live by the advice of his late father, who told him and his two brothers "to try to figure out what the right thing to do was, and then to do it."
Wallach also served as general counsel and adviser to Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 1987 and 1988. Introducing Wallach to the committee, Reid said the two are close.
"I hope this doesn’t hurt him, but he is my friend," Reid said.
Wallach appeared before the committee with judicial nominees from Montana, California, West Virginia and New York.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the committee’s top Republican, said he was willing to move forward on nominees with consensus support, "and it looks to me we have a group that falls in that category."
But even once nominees are approved by the Judiciary Committee, there is a logjam on the Senate floor, where only four appeals court judges have been confirmed this year amid Democratic complaints that GOP senators are holding up some of President Barack Obama’s choices.
Reid, the Senate majority leader, said he would work to get Wallach confirmed by the end of the year.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760.Evan Wallach’s public questionnaire