He doesn’t have a robe yet. And he has yet to make his first entrance into a courtroom as a newly minted federal judge.
But U.S. District Judge Mike Brown is officially on the job after a private swearing-in on Jan. 23. Confirmed 92-0 by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 11, Brown said Thursday that the judicial commission sealing his appointment to the federal bench in Georgia’s Northern District in Atlanta arrived when the city was largely shut down by snow.
After a little over a week on the job, “We’re here, and we’re open,” he said.
From his new, still spare quarters in the federal courthouse, Brown said only four people attended his swearing-in ceremony with U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas Thrash Jr.: Brown’s wife, Kristy Brown, co-chair of Alston & Bird‘s litigation and trial practice group and head of the firm’s privacy and cybersecurity litigation team, and the couple’s three daughters.
“I wanted it to be small and personal,” he said. A date for Brown’s formal investiture ceremony has not yet been set.
Brown—a former federal prosecutor in Atlanta and, until his confirmation, co-leader of Alston & Bird’s government and internal investigations practice—described his new post as having “a very steep learning curve,” but one he is approaching with relish. “I have already gotten some very serious cases … that have some very interesting legal issues,” he said. “I’m very excited about the diversity and seriousness and sophistication of some of the cases. To have that after just a week is really great.”
Brown said he has not been given any criminal cases yet but is already working on an allotment of civil case assignments. He declined to identify them, saying only, “Some of them are ready for trial. … Some are earlier in the process.”
Brown said that, while he has not yet taken his seat in his own courtroom, he has conducted some conference calls to resolve disputes. He also has installed two former Alston & Bird attorneys as his law clerks: Caroline Rawls, who was an associate in the firm’s litigation and trial practice group, and Andrew Brown (no relation), an associate in Alston’s government practice.
“I’m pretty honored they would want to come work with me,” he said.
Brown expressed his gratitude at the warm collegiality he and his clerks have been greeted with by his new colleagues on the bench.
As for his first entry into his own courtroom, “I don’t know what it’s going to be like,” he said. “You think about that a lot when you are a lawyer. … I’ve tried cases for a long time, and it’s going to make it a lot easier for me. But it’s still going to be humbling. I am going to make sure I am well-prepared so that I can be a good referee.”