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The Justice Department’s higher ranks are one step closer to being filled. The Senate Judiciary Committee this morning voted out of committee the nominations of Gregory Katsas to head the civil division and Kevin O’Connor to become the next associate attorney general. O’Connor, the current U.S. attorney in Connecticut, would take over the department’s No. 3 position, which is temporarily held by Katsas. In a related matter, the committee also agreed to send the nominations of four district judges and a U.S. marshal to the Senate floor. The judicial nominees are: Brian Miller for the Eastern District of Arkansas, James Hall for Southern District of Georgia, John Mendez for the Eastern District of California, and Stanley Anderson for the Western District of Tennessee. William Hawe is the U.S. marshal nominee for the Western District of Washington. The committee also voted 10-8 to forward a bill authorizing cameras in federal courtrooms, including the Supreme Court, to the Senate floor. The House Judiciary Committee endorsed similar legislation last year. The Senate bill would authorize the presiding judge, or a panel of judges of federal appellate and district courts, to permit recordings and broadcasts of proceedings, with some exceptions. The legislation also would direct the Judicial Conference to come up with advisory guidelines for presiding judges to consult “with respect to the management and administration” of courtroom recordings. The Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2007 enjoys bipartisan support, but it is strongly opposed by the Judicial Conference because the congressional mandate would take away the power of the appeals courts to set their own camera rules in their circuits, as is customary now.
Pedro Ruz Gutierrez can be contacted at [email protected]. The following article first appeared on The Blog of Legal Times.

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