U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Photo: Mike Scarcella/ALM U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mike Scarcella/ALM)

President Donald Trump on Friday announced two Texas federal trial court nominees, including one who was a former clerk to now-Fifth Circuit Judge Don Willett.

Brantley Starr, picked for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, was Willett’s first clerk on the Texas Supreme Court. Starr is now the deputy first assistant attorney general of Texas, overseeing “nearly two dozen divisions of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas,” according to the White House.

At the time of Willett’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit, Starr (pictured at right) told the San Antonio Express-News that his former boss’s opinions “showed his ability to build consensus, and consensus is a key factor for a judge on an appellate court.” The U.S. Senate confirmed Willett to the appeals court in 2017.

Starr’s legal career has included a stint practicing appellate litigation at King & Spalding in Austin. Before entering private practice, he served as an assistant solicitor under now-U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and under James Ho. The Senate confirmed Ho, a former Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner, to the Fifth Circuit in 2017.

“Starr is a well-known and regarded alum of the Texas Solicitor General’s office,” Ho wrote at Texas Lawyer in 2014. Starr earned his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. He has spoken at Federalist Society events on topics including “litigating liberty” and executive power and immigration.

>> The White House on Friday also announced the nomination of Jeffrey Vincent Brown to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Brown has served on the Texas Supreme Court as a justice since 2013. Brown earlier was a justice on Texas’ Fourteenth Court of Appeals and served as a judge on the 55th District Court. He joined the state district court bench from Baker Botts in Houston, where he practiced civil litigation. Brown clerked for Justices Jack Hightower and Greg Abbott of the Supreme Court of Texas after graduating from the University of Houston Law Center. “Jeff is just the fourth person to serve as a law clerk on the Supreme Court of Texas and later become a justice on the Court,” according to his online biography at the court.

>> Earlier this month, Trump announced the nomination of Jason K. Pulliam for a seat on the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas. Pulliam, a civil litigator, joined the firm Prichard Young in 2015. Pulliam earlier served on Texas’ Fourth Court of Appeals and as a judge for the Bexar County Court at Law. Pulliam earned his law degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. “Jason’s record of public service, both as a judge and a U.S. Marine, show his dedication to his country and will serve him well on the federal bench in San Antonio,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said in a statement on March 4. “I commend President Trump for nominating Jason, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to confirm him.”


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