SAN FRANCISCO He may be a legacy, but that hasn't exactly smoothed confirmation of William Orrick III for the U.S. District Court.
More than eight months after his nomination to fill the Northern District seat once held by his father, the San Francisco lawyer is still in limbo.
On Thursday, the process moved forward when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-7 to advance Orrick's nomination to a vote by the full Senate progress for Orrick but still no guarantee of a vote.
Meanwhile, the district court down three active judges, is designated a judicial emergency district because of the backlog of cases. An additional vacancy will open after U.S. District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco assumes senior status on July 1.
Orrick, a longtime civil litigator, rejoined Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass after a stint with the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Division where he ran the Office of Immigration Litigation. He was part of the team that went to court in Alabama to fight that state's controversial immigration law. He is the grandson of the late William Orrick, a co-founder of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and the son of late U.S. District Judge William Orrick Jr.
Orrick was nominated last June after U.S. District Senior Judge Charles Breyer took senior status. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Orrick's nomination, but it languished amid partisan fighting and expired at the end of 2012. President Barack Obama renominated Orrick in January.
Jon Tigar, the former Alameda County Superior Court judge nominated alongside Orrick, was confirmed in December and will begin holding proceedings in March.
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Judiciary Committee's ranking minority member, voted against Orrick, noting concerns about the nominee's views on immigration.
Grassley also complained that Orrick had provided "nonresponsive" answers to some of Grassley's questions.
"Mr. Orrick's nonresponsiveness rises to a level well above what we typically see from nominees," Grassley said.
Senator Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who recommended Orrick's nomination, praised the committee and urged the Senate to take action.
"William Orrick is an outstanding attorney whose decades of experience are needed to help address the heavy caseload in the Northern District," Boxer said in a statement. "I urge my Senate colleagues to quickly confirm him so he can begin serving the people of Northern California."
Obama has not named nominees for the remaining vacancies.