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JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

COURTS

MONDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1970

U.S. SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA,

Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10:15 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 6226, New Senate Office Building, Senator Joseph D. Tydings (chairman of the committee) presiding.

Present: Senators Tydings, Bible, Spong, and Eagleton.

Also present: John T. McEvoy, staff director; James S. Medill, minority counsel; James P. Davenport, counsel; Vaughn C. Williams, counsel; David A. Cooper, counsel; Lynn Merrifield, clerical assistant; Judy Ward, clerical assistant; and Ann Howard, assistant chief clerk.

The CHAIRMAN. Good morning.

The committee meets this morning to take testimony on 18 nominations for the courts of the National Capital. These nominations hare been processed by this committee more rapidly than any in recent history. The average 31-day, processing period has been cut nearly in half. Speed has been required by the unfortunate delay in the submission of these nominations by the administration.

Two of the judgeships have been open and sitting for an entire Fear while we waited for a nomination to be made. One has been vacant since May.

The 13 judgeships created by the new crime bill have been known since the House locked that number into its version 6 months ago. The existence of these 18 judgeships has been certain since the Congress sent the crime bill to the President on July 23. That is 63 days before the nominations finally were sent to this committee for processing

We have had the 18 nominations for 19 days. I would like personally to congratulate the committee staff for working time and a half, triple time, 14 hours a day, in processing these nominations for the past 2 weeks.

Orderly procedure and consideration for the nominees and witnesses would have been facilitated by following the original schedule agreed to by the committee, to consider half the nominees now and half 30 days from now—after the recess. But the rather startling attempt of the Attorney General to inject politics into the judicial nomination process last week prevented that.

Last week the Attorney General released to the press a letter criticizing the committee's decision to follow the orderly procedure which had been agreed upon. The Attorney General released that letter without the courtesy of a phone call to me or notice to the staff, and even before I had an opportunity to respond to the letter.

The Department of Justice had been fully aware of the committee's decision to hold two hearings on the nominees ever since that decision

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was made by the committee, bipartisanly, at its regular meeting on September 29.

The committee staff director kept the Associate Deputy Attorney General fully informed. At no time was a protest to the committee's decision received prior to the letter I received last Wednesday. If the Attorney General desired to have the committee change its plan, a simple phone call to me from his deputy, or anyone else in the Department, would have been sufficient.

Instead, the Department engaged in what amounted to a political stunt, not to expedite consideration of these nominees, but to embarrass the committee and to embarrass its chairman. I deplore that the administration has tried to make a political issue of the nominations.

As far as I am concerned, each nominee deserves full, fair, and orderly consideration by this committee and by the Senate to determine if he meets the qualifications required for the bench. I had hoped this legislation and these nominations were above politics. We certainly worked to keep it that way. I think our work—17 days to process 18 nominees-proves our good faith.

This hearing is being held today to take these nominations out of the political context into which they were unfortunately plunged last week. I hope this ends the matter once and for all. I trust we can get back to the concern of this committee, a concern which the administration shares, for getting the court reorganization plan working as promptly and as effectively as possible.

Our first witness is the Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Richard G. Kleindienst, who will make a formal statement, and will introduce each of the nominees to the committee at the conclusion of, or during his statement.

Vr. Kleindienst, will you please come forward?

STATEMENT OF RICHARD G. KLEINDIENST, DEPUTY ATTORNEY

GENERAL, ACCOMPANIED BY DONALD E. SANTARELLI, ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Mr. KLEINDIENST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN. I would first like to call on members of the committee for any comments.

Senator Bible. Mr. Chairman, I have really nothing to add to the splendid statement you have made. All I want to say is that I have been a so-called political animal since 1934, which is a fair tenure in public office, and I don't think it has been too long, and thank goodness the majority in Nevada agreed and I am still here,

As a long-time member of this committee, I couldn't let this opportunity go by without indicating my high regard for the work you have done in this court reorganization. I don't know anyone on either side of the Hill who has done more in court reorganization work, day-in and day-out and year-in and year-out. You have been here 6 years now; and I have watched you, and I do hope that this does not get entangled or entwined in politics. It should be above politics.

As far as I am concerned, it will remain above politics. I simply want to take this opportunity of saluting you for the great work you have done in this judicial field. It is outstanding, three stars or five, whatever the maximum is that you can be awarded, and I wanted to say it.

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Senator Spong. Mr. Chairman, I want to associate myself with the remarks of the Senator from Nevada.

The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Senator EAGLETON. I, too, would not be left out of the act. Laughter).

The CHAIRMAN. We are delighted to welcome you, Mr. Kleindienst, and we are delighted to have Mr. Santarelli, who worked so long and hard with us in the development and passage of the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act.

You may proceed, sir. Mr. KLEINDIENST. Mr. Chairman, it is obvious that I am delighted to be here. I am also deeply honored to be present here today for the purpose of introducing to the committee the 18 men and women who have been nominated by the President to serve as judges in the District of Columbia's newly reorganized court system.

I am honored to be here because each of us has the privilege of participating in a milestone event in the District's history. It is an event made possible by the unity and cooperation of our three branches of Government. It is an event that demonstrates to all our citizens progress that we can achieve when we work together.

Those who contributed to court reorganization can remember the enormity of the project that once lay before them, and I think they can take pride today in what they have accomplished.

The importance of court reform was apparent to President Nixon 21 months ago when he directed “the Attorney General to consult with the bench, the bar, and the various interested groups, to assist in the drafting of appropriate legislation providing for a reorganization and restructuring of our present court system toward the eventual goal of creating one local court system

* * for the District of Columbia."

The President knew then that the arrangement whereby all felony jurisdiction in the District resided in the Federal district court was

unacceptable in principle and unworkable in practice. E It was unacceptable in principle because a local judicial system

deprived of all meaningful jurisdiction was inconsistent with the struggle for home rule. It was unworkable in practice because the

backlogs and delays which characterize the trial of felony cases in | the Federal district court were undermining criminal justice in the Nation's Capital

While the District's serious felonies increased almost 600 percent between 1958 and 1969, the number of felony prosecutions in 1969 was actually less than in 1950. Rising aspirations and rising crime made court reorganization an imperative objective for the new administration,

Now that we bave achieved reform in the statutes, we must put it into

pra, tice. We must make it a reality for the people of this city. All the elements of crisis which inspired the chairman of this committee to speak a year ago of the "crying need for immediate action” remain with us today. Rapid confirmation by the Senate of the President's 18 judicial candidates is the single most important step we can now take to begin the immense task of restoring the concept of a speedy trial, and of swift and certain justice, to the District of Columbia.

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The current backlog of almost 3,500 juvenile cases is dramatic evidence of the need for immediate action. The people of this city can have no patience with further delay.

It might be helpful at this point to describe the procedure that was followed in selecting the judicial candidates.

The President determined that the process by which he filled the unusually large number of local judgeships should be thoughtful, thorough, and above criticism. Acting through the Department of Justice, he solicited and received recommendations for nominees from the four local bar associations and from many local attorneys and citizens. A deliberate effort was made to seek out candidates of ability and stature. At the time the selection process began to narrow, more than 160 candidates were under active consideration.

On July 29, the day the Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act became law, we asked the American Bar Association to assist us in evaluating and ranking a reduced list of judicial candidates. For the first time in history, the American Bar Association was asked to evaluate attorneys for appointment to local judgeships. For the first time a national administration invited the ABA to apply to candidates for local judgeships the same high standards that it applies to candidates for lifetime judicial appointments.

During the next several weeks 35 names were submitted to the ABA for thorough investigation. The investigating committee was headed by Charles Horsky, an eminent Washington attorney who serves as the District of Columbia Circuit's representative to the ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. Mr. Horsky was assisted in his work by U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Flannery, a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association; Frederick H. Evans, past president of the Washington Bar Association; and former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Earl Kintner, a past national president of the Federal Bar Association. These four gifted attorneys are men with impeccable legal credentials.

After careful study Mr. Horsky's panel of four referred its recommendations to the ABA's full committee on the Federal Judiciary. The committee, in turn, made its own evaluation of the candidates, which it submitted to the Department of Justice.

Each of the attorneys presented to the District Committee today has been evaluated by the same ABA standards that apply to lifetime judicial appointments, and each has been found qualified by the American Bar Association to serve in the position for which he has been nominated.

To date no one has devised a better means of evaluating the quality and competence of prospective judges than by submitting their names to the scrutiny of an impartial, nonpartisan committee of the Bar. The assistance of the ABA in this regard was invaluable to the President, as it has been on Federal judicial appointments many times in the past.

This has been a time-consuming process of screening and selection. The need for thorough field investigations by the FBI was also very important. Less time would have elapsed had there been fewer vacancies to fill, fewer candidates to consider, and a less rigorous process of selection. But, all in all, we are satisfied that the time expended in assuring the qualifications of the 18 nominees was well spent in the public interest.

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