Bush Judicial Nominee: Private Prison Executive With Little Court Experience

Via Mother Jones:

Tennessee's next trial court judge might be a prison company executive who has less courtroom experience than most inmates.

His name is Gustavus Adolphus Puryear IV:

Puryear has spent the bulk of his legal career at the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison company. As its general counsel since 2001, Puryear has made millions of dollars working for a company that profits from the country's incarceration boom, particularly through his recent sale of more than $3 million worth of the company's stock. (His financial disclosure form shows a net worth of more than $13 million.

...According to his written questionnaire for the committee, of the two cases he has tried in the entirety of his legal career, he was lead counsel on one of them. The last time he litigated a case in federal court was more than a decade ago.

Puryear oversees the defense of Correction Corps of America to inmate lawsuits. [More...]

In 2004 Puryear said that, "Litigation is an outlet for inmates. It's something they can do in their spare time." Inmate lawsuits typically account for more than 10 percent of the docket in Tennessee's Middle District, meaning that Puryear will see his share of them if he gets confirmed.

What did Puryear do to deserve a nomination to the federal bench? He prepped Dick Cheney for debates against Joe Lieberman in 2000 and John Edwards in 2004.

You just can't make this stuff up. (h/t Scribe.)

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    Heh (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Steve M on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:45:37 PM EST
    It always brings a warm feeling to my heart to know that Bush will be getting very, very few of his judges confirmed this year.  I have a hunch this one might be towards the bottom of the list.

    NONE should be confirmed (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by po on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:50:32 PM EST

    to be fair (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:07:56 PM EST

      I never heard of the guy and will express no specific opinion on his suitability for the bench, but I will state that trial experience while a positive is not and should not be a requirement for a judge. Many good judges have had very little prior experience as courtroom lawyers and many judges with extensive courtroom experience have been terrible judges. The bench is not and should not be reserved only for lawyers whose practice involves extensive litigation.

      Impressionistically, I'd be far more concerned about his youth -- and thus lack of experience period, partisanship and concerns about impartiality than the fact he doesn't try cases for a living.

      Here's his resume

    Birth: 1968 Atlanta, Georgia  
    Legal Residence:   Tennessee

    Education:1986-1990 Emory University B.A. degree

    1990 - 1993 University of North Carolina School of Law J.D. degree

    Bar: 1993 Tennessee

    Experience: 1993 - 1994 Law Clerk to the Honorable Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale
        United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

      1994 - 1997 Farris, Warfield & Kanaday
        Associate Attorney

      1997 - 1998 United States Senate
        United States Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs

        Counsel, Special Investigation

      1998 - 2000 United States Senate
        Office of United States Senator Bill Frist
        Legislative Director

      2001 - present Corrections Corporation of America
        Executive Vice President, General Counsel

    pfui. (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by nolo on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:36:19 PM EST
    A trial court judge should know something about trying cases.  It's important.

    to be fair.... (none / 0) (#7)
    by A DC Wonk on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:43:54 PM EST
    ... check out the Mother Jones article cited up top.  There not a lot of specific, but a lot of hints (helped prep Cheney for debates, staffed for Fred Thompson while investigating Clinton stuff, etc.)  Perhaps that's standard for any GOPer his age, I dunno.

    Member of a country club that might be racist and sexist?  

    And, he also gave a misleading (perhaps deliberate) answer to the Senate committee.

    Too long to elaborate on it here -- check out the article here.


    Why R any of W's judicial nominees getting a vote (none / 0) (#2)
    by po on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 02:49:39 PM EST
    This is an election year and likely a year in which the Unitary Executive will shift from R to D (unless us Ds derail the whole thing, but that's a different rant).  Why would the Senate take up ANY of W's judicial nominees?  Don't they have better things to occupy their time?  Christian conservatives banded together with the GOP to stack the judiciary with "strict constructionist" "conservatives" who are actually nothing more than corporatists in religious garb.  That's their revolution.  Why give them more?

    I think he was nominated on the (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:03:28 PM EST
    basis of his oh-so-Lutheran name.

    Swedish (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by eric on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 04:12:46 PM EST
    I posted about this but its seems to have been deleted.  It's not really so much a Lutheran name as it is Swedish.  Gustav Adolph is considered to be a great king in Swedish history.  If you latinize it, you get Gustavus Adolphus.

    Maybe my post was deleted for not being topical?  I was just saying something interesting about his very uniquely Swedish name.  Some people just name their kids Olaf or even Eric.


    Trial judges should have experience (none / 0) (#8)
    by scribe on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 03:46:26 PM EST
    trying cases.

    This stems from the need to understand all the little aspects of trial practice, not the least of which is how to resolve cases by pushing the parties to settlement.  Beyond settlement (which accounts for 90-some percent of all civil case dispositions), there are highly developed fields of arcana - the law of evidence, for starters - that only really get into a lawyer's head by actually doing it again and again.  Then, there's knowing when an argument is bogus, weak, diversionary and when not, knowledge gained primarily by trying to make that argument yourself (or watching someone else do it).

    I'm not saying you have to have an apartment in the Courthouse, but rather that you have to know which side of the courtroom you sit on.  The judges who make good judges without a lot of courtroom experience are primarily appellate judges, for whom riding herd on a room full of trial lawyers' egos is not a job requirement.  A lot of law professors could make great appellate judges - but not trial judges.

    And, combined with his lack of experience this guy is way too young.  He is, pure and simple, a hack.  And intended to give the same kind of results as Bush/Haynes' rigged kangaroo courts at Gitmo.  Putting poor people in prison, where they can be an income stream for the corporations running the hellholes.

    I'll agree with the too young... (none / 0) (#10)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Feb 21, 2008 at 05:01:05 PM EST
     and I'm not ignoring the "hack" evidence (although being a political hack is not necessarily mutually exclusive with being a capable lawyer or jurist; some very capable people build careers by sucking up to politicians), but, I repeat, it is not and should not be a requirement that judges have practices involving litigation.

      If I was choosing between two otherwise similar candidates, I'd prefer the one with a courtroom background but as "courtroom experience" seems  usually to mean former prosecutor or corporate defense firm partner, sometimes I might prefer someone whose judicial behaviotr will not be influenced by a long career in court.