Trump Judicial Nominee Who Bungled Basic Legal Questions, Withdraws After Humiliating Hearing

President Trump's nominee to fill a vacant D.C. District Court Judge seat has withdrawn his name from consideration after an embarrassing video went viral of him bungling basic legal questions at his confirmation hearing on December 13. 

Matthew Petersen

Matthew Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission and former Obama-appointed Chairman of the regulatory agency, struggled to answer a series of questions by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) that any attorney should be able to answer.

After Petersen admitted he's never tried a case as an attorney, Kennedy reminded him that as a trial judge he'd have to deal with witnesses, and asked the nominee what the "Daubert standard" is - a rule of evidence regarding the admissibility of an expert witness testimony.  Petersen replied "I don't have that readily at my disposal."  When asked next what a "motion in limine" is, referring to a request to exclude certain evidence in a trial, Petersen said he hadn't had the time to "do a deep dive," adding that he would "probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table."

Petersen's embarrassing performance can be seen below:

Sen. Kennedy said in a Monday morning interview on WWL-TV that “Just because you’ve seen My Cousin Vinny doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge,” adding “And he has no litigation experience. And my job on the judiciary committee is to catch him. I would strongly suggest he not give up his day job.”

Kennedy also said President Trump called him after the video went viral, stating “The president and I get along fine, and he has told me, ‘Kennedy, when some of my guys send somebody over who’s not qualified, you do your job,” he said.

In Petersen's withdrawal letter, he wrote "My nomination has become a distraction." despite hoping that his "nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television" 

With Kennedy "strongly suggesting" Petersen keep his job at the Federal Election Commission, it appears the wannabe lawyer decided to do just that.


fx Jack McGriff Mon, 12/18/2017 - 19:47 Permalink

Just don't look too close into those "two decades of public service"....

Does this idiot have a wife?

If so, he screwed up once and for all. Not just because he miserably failed but because he acted like a fucking weasel afterwards. " I hope you don't judge me by my embarrassing performance tonight. please, please, please, take into account how I performed the last decades as a government apointed full-time moron..."

The postman will get a very plesant treatment by his wife next time he (or she) shows up, that I am sure of.

In reply to by Jack McGriff

NoDebt fx Mon, 12/18/2017 - 20:56 Permalink

What the fuck is Trump doing nominating Obama-era appointees?  Has he not learned his lesson about that yet?  They are ALL COMPROMISED.  Even the "good guys" like Flynn are tainted because despite their best intentions (and very few even have "best intentions") Obama's got the goods on ALL OF THEM.NO OBAMA-ERA PEOPLE AT ALL.  EVERY FUCKING ONE OF THEM SENT PACKING.  THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE IN-BETWEEN.  ALL OF THEM HAVE TO GO.Are you listening, Trump?  Every one of them will either actively work against you or be used as a pawn to hit you with a bank shot.  I would think a smart guy like you would have figured this out by now.  Guess not.  Enjoy being a "professional defendant" your entire presidency. 

In reply to by fx

FORD_FIESTA Mon, 12/18/2017 - 16:48 Permalink

"nearly two decades of public service".....WTF is wrong with this picture? This Idiot should have been fired after the first week.....Idiots are running this country.

Ramesees FORD_FIESTA Mon, 12/18/2017 - 17:04 Permalink

TOP MEN are running this country. We need to expand our federal government and make sure that Washington DC, which is populated by big-hearted people that have only love and the best intentions for those of us not in Washington DC, expands its reach into every small town and village under control of Uncle Sam.  What's right for someone that lives in a $4.5mm in Kalorama, went to Harvard, and works at a lobbying firm getting Democrats to fund his clients' investment in solar power is certainly right for the oil and gas worker that lives in a class C apartment in Baytown, TX.  They should really be making decisions for us as they know what's best for us - if we disagree, we must be voting against our own interests (that we're too stupid, or have been manipulated by Faux News, to know are our interests).

In reply to by FORD_FIESTA

PGR88 Mon, 12/18/2017 - 16:49 Permalink

There have been Supreme Court Judges who were not lawyers, the most famous of whom was William O. Douglas.Judges simply need to be able to understand the law as written, precedents to it, and then understand the arguments being made to them. 

LetThemEatRand PGR88 Mon, 12/18/2017 - 17:17 Permalink

"There have been Supreme Court Judges who were not lawyers"US District Court judge is a whole different animal.  Those judges hear trials, not appeals like the Supremes.  Rulings need to be made on the fly during live trials.  Granted he could learn, but why pick a guy that needs to learn how to be a trial judge to be a trial judge, just because he has the right political connections or whatever caused him to be nominated?  

In reply to by PGR88

warpigs Mon, 12/18/2017 - 16:49 Permalink

He seems like a giant moron, but he actually attended a top tier law school and was part of Law Review there. His appearance, however, is a spectacular example of what it looks like when two things are likely: 1) Yo have left your education in the dust bin of history as you became a generalist and managed people for a living instead of actually practicing law and 2) You come to a gun fight with no weapon. Ugly.

Milton Keynes warpigs Mon, 12/18/2017 - 16:58 Permalink

Law Review is over-rated.Barack Obama was an  editor of Law Review at Harvard. It's an academic thing, lots of citation, lots of reading papers deciding what to publish. However peterson hasn't been near a courtroom in 20 years, worked a case folio, or done basic legal prep since clinic. I'm sure he's super smart but, I doubt he'd be a good judge.

In reply to by warpigs

serotonindumptruck Mon, 12/18/2017 - 16:57 Permalink

I've argued my own criminal cases Pro se (and lost) and even I know what a Motion in limine is, due to the prosecutor filing several of them before trial.This guy was a fucking moron, and Trump was complicit for nominating him.

Singelguy serotonindumptruck Mon, 12/18/2017 - 18:53 Permalink

I highly doubt Trump put him forth. Someone in the justice department is responsible for this screw up. Think about it. The federal government has millions of employess, tens of thousands of managers, and thousands of judges. Do you realky believe that Trump has the time to personally vet every candidate for management and judges positions? He relies on his cabinet appointees to put the right people in positions that will oversee the appointments of everyone else that works in that department. However, you can bet that since this made the news, and Trump heard about it, he is going to kick some ass.

In reply to by serotonindumptruck

serotonindumptruck Singelguy Mon, 12/18/2017 - 19:33 Permalink

I'm growing more convinced that the most successful government employees excel at brown-nosing and ass-kissing their way to the top, much like the way it is in private industry.It's a rare thing to work for a supervisor who doesn't want to be surrounded by yes men/women.This guy was likely no exception, until he experienced his first real job interview, and he was unable to answer simple legal questions that any first year law student would be able to immediately provide a comprehensive response to.

In reply to by Singelguy

izzee Mon, 12/18/2017 - 17:01 Permalink

The key line in this is"Matthew Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission and former Obama-appointed Chairman of the regulatory agency"Chairman in charge of denying that there is any voter fraud, anywhere, anyhow, no-way-jose.