Senator Kennedy starts out by asking if any of an assembled group of judges had never tried a case to verdict.
Petersen is the only one to raise his hand.
- Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) December 15, 2017The context here is that White House Counsel Don McGahn, who oversees Trump's judicial nominees, was an FEC commissioner serving alongside this guy.
KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a - taken a deposition by yourself?
"I have not", the nominee responded. "Civil? Criminal? Bench? State or federal court?" asked Sen. State or federal court? No. Federal court? No on both counts. We do have at the FEC roughly 70 attorneys who work under our guidance, including a large litigation division. The rules are amended and republished every year. Petersen said he had "heard of it".
"As a trial judge, you're obviously going to have witnesses". "But I would be happy to take a closer look at that". For instance, he can't define a motion in limine, an elementary judicial concept. A motion in limine is a widely used request for certain evidence to be excluded at trial.
Then Kennedy began to ask pointed questions about law. During his 11 months in office, Trump has nominated four candidates deemed "unqualified" by the American Bar Association's Standing Committee of the Federal Judiciary, which has been evaluating judges since the 1950s.
Kennedy zoomed in on Petersen. "I would probably not be able to give you a good definition", he said.
Petersen received his law degree from University of Virginia School of Law in 1999 and spent three years at the law firm Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, where he specialized in campaign finance law.
"In the past year, I have supported almost every one of President Trump's picks, but I don't blindly support them", Senator Kennedy said in a statement. "The Trump administration is now working to fill more than 100 vacant court seats with conservative judges".
This week, Kennedy gained an ally in Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, who announced that Talley and another controversial nominee who once called transgender children "Satan's plan" would not be confirmed.
Whitehouse wrote: "Republican SenJohnKennedy asks one of realDonaldTrump's US District Judge nominees basic questions of law & he can't answer a single one. Daubert is pretty basic".
Petersen: The Federal Rules of Evidence all the way through?
Toward the end of the hearing, Mr. Petersen also came up empty on two lesser-known points of legal doctrine. For someone who once said his administration would only select the "best people", Trump sure has messed up when it comes to this judicial nominee.