President Joe Biden today announced that Judge Leonard Stark of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware is his latest nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Stark will replace CAFC Judge Kathleen O’Malley, who announced on July 27 this year that she will retire, leaving a vacancy on the court as of March 11, 2022.
Biden nominated Tiffany Cunningham in March of this year and she was confirmed to the court in July. Cunningham replaced Judge Evan J. Wallach, who retired from active service and assumed senior status on May 31, 2021, after 10 years of service with the court.
As a district court judge at one of the most active courts for patent cases in the country, Stark is a natural choice to replace O’Malley. He has served on the Delaware court since 2010 and was Chief Judge for the District of Delaware from July 2014 to June 2021. He also served as a magistrate judge for the district of Delaware from 2007-2010 and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, where he worked in both the criminal and civil divisions.
Stark worked in private practice between 1997 and 2001 at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and served as a law clerk for Judge Walter Stapleton on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 1996 to 1997.
Judge O’Malley was confirmed to the CAFC on March 10, 2010. She was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Alvin Schall. She previously served on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. She has gained a reputation for writing decidedly pro-patent opinions and likely will be missed by the IP community, but Stark’s district court and patent experience may offer some hope that her legacy will be carried on.
Biden also nominated an all-female slate of eight district courts judges and one local D.C. judge:
- Georgette Castner: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Judge Jacqueline Corley: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
- Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California
- Evelyn Padin: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
- Judge Julie Rubin: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
- Judge Cristina D. Silva: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Nevada
- Judge Trina Thompson: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
- Anne Rachel Traum: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Nevada
- Kendra Briggs: Nominee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
These latest nominations represent Biden’s ninth round of nominees for federal judicial positions; he has now named 62 federal judicial nominees.
“These choices also continue to fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds,” a White House press release said.
Chad Landmon of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider said that Stark is “hard working and fair”: “Judge Stark is highly regarded and certainly has extensive experience with patent cases across a variety of industries. He is a very hard-working judge and has always been very fair to all sides before him. If confirmed, he will make an excellent addition to the Federal Circuit.”