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In defense of Vincent Briccetti

Ira Stoll seems to take issue with the Obama administration's nomination of Vincent Briccetti for a federal judgeship on the Southern District of New York because Briccetti, after serving four years as a federal prosecutor, represented some unsavory clients as a criminal defense attorney.

This is a poor reason to oppose a judicial nominee. It's only on television that a criminal defense attorney constructs a career purely out of representing the innocent; to cherry-pick an attorney's worst clients and hold them against the attorneys is a way to guarantee that only lifelong government attorneys or politicians get nominated to the federal bench. That means prosecutors only, and no one with experience in the world of business litigation. That's not how we want to slant the bench.

Even in terms of cynical political gain, this isn't the type of attack Republicans should be making, because it would disproportionately affect Republican nominees. In my own career, I've represented pharmaceutical and auto companies; Hollywood studios; a doctor accused of insurance fraud; a patent troll; a bingo machine manufacturer; a trial lawyer; and I even performed a weekend's worth of work for Fannie Mae. My willingness to represent these individuals and businesses in court on particular matters on particular issues hardly represents an endorsement of everything they've done or an implication of how I would rule on the bench.

Now perhaps there is something else objectionable about the Briccetti nomination. But it's hardly the case that his defense of eventually convicted criminals—even repugnant criminals—tars him, much less disqualifies him.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.