Several weeks ago President Obama made six nominations to fill vacancies to the federal district court, with five of the nominations for vacancies in the federal bench in Texas. Given the outsized importance of the Eastern District of Texas relative to patent litigation, one nomination in particular is worth the attention of the patent and innovation community.
Karen Gren Scholer has been nominated to serve on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. If confirmed, Scholer, who was born in Tokyo, Japan, will become the first Asian American to serve as a federal district court judge in Texas or any of the courts encompassed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a territory that encompasses Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
While Republican Senators are promising to block the confirmation of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the vacant Supreme Court post, Texas Senator John Cornyn has signaled his willingness to work with the President to confirm judicial nominees for lower court positions in Texas. “This disagreement over the Supreme Court is not going to stop my commitment to work across the aisle to help Texas and Texans. And to that end, we’ve been working with White House on five judicial nominations,” Cornyn said. See Cornyn Pledges to Help Obama Seat Texas Judges.
It is believed that Republican Presidential Candidate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, will also support Scholer for the Eastern District post given that Cornyn and Cruz jointly created the so-called Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee, which reviews applications, interviews candidates and makes recommendations to the Senators with respect to who should be supported for federal court vacancies. While this practice may strike some as unusual, for federal court vacancies other than the Supreme Court U.S. Senators from the State where the court is located have exceptional influence with respect to recommending nominees to the President.
Scholer, who earned her law degree from Cornell University Law School and her undergraduate degree from Rice University, is currently a principal and co-managing partner at Carter Scholer Arnett Hamada Mockler PLLC, in Dallas, Texas. She is an experienced litigator and former State judge who has presided over 100 trials. Her judicial experience includes eight years as a state district judge on the 95th Judicial District Court, Dallas County, Texas. She has also served as the presiding judge for Dallas County Civil District Court Judges and, on one occasion, as a Justice on the Tenth Court of Appeals by appointment of former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Prior to becoming a State judge in Texas, Scholer had a successful civil litigation practice. For more than18 years she was a litigation partner at two major Texas law firms, including Jones Day, Andrews & Kurth LLP, and Strasburger & Price LLP.