Bush Judicial Nominee Gus Puryear: Just Say No

Alternet has a profile of Bush judicial nominee Gus Puryear.

From a corporate standpoint, Puryear has excelled in his job as general counsel for Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), the nation's largest and most influential private prison company. Under his direction, CCA's in-house attorneys work with a stable of contracted law firms to handle corporate legal matters of all kinds, not the least of which are the hundreds of claims and lawsuits filed against the company at any given time. A smart, enthusiastic GOP stalwart, Puryear is the kind of guy the party wants around. It doesn't hurt that he's also very, very rich: Between his bank account, assets and unexercised CCA shares, he's worth about $13 million, give or take a few thousand.

Alliance for Justice, which has a full report on Puryear, says:

Mr. Puryear's public comments indicate hostility towards civil rights lawsuits in general and to those brought by prisoners in particular.


Scott Horton at Harper's has more, as does Time Magazine. Puryear is 39 years old. A federal judicial appointment is for life. Here is Tennesseans Against Gus Puryear. My earlier post is here.

Read the letter (pdf) from Tennessee's Chief Medical Examiner to Sen. Leahy charging that Puryear was untruthful in his confirmation hearing testimony.


He's CCA's general counsel and would hold a judgeship in the same district where CCA's corporate office is located, where numerous lawsuits against CCA are filed. He has very little experience in the federal courts; during his time at CCA he has worked to conceal damaging information about the company, and has belittled prisoner litigation. He is further a member of a blatantly discriminatory country club (against women, see here, pdf), and has made misleading statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the death of a prisoner at a CCA facility. The top lawyer for the nation's largest for-profit private prison company is particularly ill suited to serve as a federal judge.

He also seems unqualified for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench:

According to the federal court dockets, and by Mr. Puryear's own admission, he has been actively involved in only five federal cases over his entire legal career, and only two cases that went to trial -- most recently 10 years ago.

Further, in one of the only two cases he took to trial (which he lost), Mr. Puryear's client sought to have him removed from the case, twice.

....Mr. Puryear has authored only one published law journal article, in 1992. Apparently his qualifications for a federal judgeship are not based on his extensive knowledge as a trial attorney, nor on his litigation experience or academic credentials. Nor is his ABA ranking noteworthy. The ratings are available here. Thus, Mr. Puryear is ranked in the bottom 25% of his judicial nominee peers.

Puryear is an unqualified, partisan political appointment.

Puryear is a dedicated Republican supporter, having previously worked under Republican Senators Bill Frist and Fred Thompson. He was an advisor to Vice President Cheney during the 2000 debates. He has given at least $13,450 to federal and state Republican campaign committees since 2001; specific donations include $3,000 to Sen. Bob Corker from 2005-2006, $1,000 for Mitt Romney in 2007, $2,000 to President Bush for the primary in 2003, $1,000 to Lamar Alexander's Senate campaign in 2005, and $1,000 to Sen. Kit Bond in 2003. The Nashville Post referred to Mr. Puryear as a "Republican heavyweight."

Puryear's employer, CCA, has been generous to Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, too. From 2003 to 2008, CCA and the company's subsidiaries, employees and their spouses donated over $30,000 to Senator Alexander and $27,250 to Senator Corker. CCA co-founder Tom Beasley has donated over $100,000 to Senator Alexander, and CCA's extensive connections with Senator Alexander go way back. Both Senators Alexander and Corker have strongly supported Mr. Puryear's nomination; however, they have not acknowledged that Puryear and CCA have made significant donations to their political campaigns.

The National Lawyers Guild also opposes Puryear. Do does the AFSCME Union (pdf).

Gus Puryear's nomination hearing was held on Feb. 12, 2008. The Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet voted on his nomination. There is still time to oppose his confirmation.

Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Bldg.
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4242

You can also contact other members of the committee, especially if they are from your state, as well as your state's U.S. senators. A list of the Senate Judiciary Committee's membership is available at this link:

You can find the contact information for your state's Senators here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Put a hold on all! (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by mmc9431 on Fri May 09, 2008 at 08:04:08 PM EST
    There's no reason at this stage that the Dem's should green light any of these yoyo's that Bush is trying to ram through. The judges and appointees he's trying to push through are part of his right wing legacy and we'll have to live with them for years to come.

    I Agree (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Fri May 09, 2008 at 11:22:26 PM EST
    The dems have already been more than generous in cooperating with Bush stacking the courts.

    Jeralyn-- need an open thread to discuss (none / 0) (#1)
    by ChuckieTomato on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:15:23 PM EST
    I'll do one later tonight please (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:22:14 PM EST
    save it for the open thread. Thanks for letting me know.

    And He's Far From Being the Only (none / 0) (#3)
    by The Maven on Fri May 09, 2008 at 07:23:23 PM EST
    highly questionable judicial nominee whom the Bush Administration has put forth of late.  I would hope that Puryear's nomination goes no further (the same goes for the other objectionable nominees), though I'm at a loss as to why the Judiciary Committee had scheduled the hearing three months ago instead of merely letting the nomination wither and die on the shelf.  Is Sen. Leahy so fearful of the rhetorical powers of the lame-duck Bush Administration that the possibility of being cast as unfairly blocking nominations for partisan reasons caused him to bow to unseen pressures?  Or was there some more nefarious deal offered?  If it was the former, Leahy is being foolish; if the latter, I am gravely concerned.