California Attorney General Xavier Becerra testifies in Washington in September. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is seeking job applications for the position of solicitor general, the Department of Justice’s chief appellate lawyer and a key post in California’s battles with the Trump administration.

The job posting seeks an attorney with “experience personally arguing cases in the United States and/or California Supreme Courts; substantial experience handling significant matters in the federal and/or state supreme courts and in other appellate courts.”

The successful candidate will oversee an office of 10 attorneys, a principal deputy and a supervising deputy and be expected “to argue some important matters personally,” while also overseeing the opinions unit and supervising appellate litigation training, the posting says. Applicants are asked to respond by Feb. 22 to Becerra’s policy adviser, Senior Special Assistant Attorney General Laura Stuber.

The posting offers no information about the current officeholder, Edward DuMont, who was appointed by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris in 2013. Messages left with DuMont and Stuber were not returned Wednesday. Becerra’s communications director, Sarah Lovenheim, confirmed that the office is hiring for a state solicitor but provided no other details.

The job posting is not listed on the attorney general’s main “careers” web page. Attorneys who have been told about the opening have been directed instead to a different page on the Department of Justice’s site.

DuMont, a former appellate litigation partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, was nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 2010. He asked the president to withdraw his name from consideration in November 2011 after the Senate Judiciary Committee declined to vote on his nomination. DuMont would have been the first openly gay U.S. appeals court judge.

Edward DuMont, appearing on a panel in 2014. Via YouTube

DuMont has argued 20 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, most recently on behalf of the state in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a 2016 case challenging a requirement that non-union members pay “fair share” fees to the teachers association. The high court, following the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, split 4-4, effectively affirming a Ninth Circuit ruling favoring the union and the state.

DuMont also represented the state in Peruta v. San Diego County, a 2016 case before the Ninth Circuit that unsuccessfully sought to overturn restrictions on permits to carry concealed weapons.

In a 2017 interview with Stanford Lawyer, Dumont said that when he first heard about the job opening for solicitor general, “it was too good a combination of the interests that were important to me not to throw my hat into the ring.”

“From my own experience working with him, Ed DuMont has been a tremendous solicitor general for California,” Jeff Tsai, a partner in DLA Piper‘s litigations, white-collar and investigations practices, wrote in an email. “Given the breadth of General Becerra’s agenda, I don’t think there’s any doubt that the next SG will be one of the most accomplished appellate practitioners in the country.”

The attorney general’s office is also recruiting for a special assistant to the attorney general on civil rights and criminal justice reform. Kelli Evans, Becerra’s chief adviser in those policy areas since April 2017, left the position earlier this month to join Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.

 

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