LOS ANGELES – Paul J. Watford, a Los Angeles attorney with broad experience and the support of some influential local conservatives, was nominated by President Barack Obama on Monday to the busiest appeals court in the country.
The choice of Watford, 44, for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew praise from colleagues on both sides of the political aisle and predictions that he will have a smoother path to Senate confirmation than some of the president’s more liberal nominees.
The 9th Circuit has long been the most overwhelmed of the 13 federal appellate circuits and has seen its burdens mount this year with the deaths of five judges. If confirmed, Watford will fill the vacancy created on Sept. 21, when Circuit Judge Pamela Ann Rymer died of cancer at age 70.
The court is authorized to have 29 active judgeships but has four vacancies, with a fifth expected at the end of the year. Obama has three pending appointments to the 9th Circuit, with Watford joining Alaska Supreme Court Justice Morgan Christen and U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Nguyen of Los Angeles in what can be a contentious and protracted confirmation process.