RICHMOND, Va. -- A college professor who keeps an eye on the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals says the woman who will be nominated for an opening on that court fits the bill of a good candidate.
Last month, The West Virginia Record reported that Charleston attorney Stephanie Thacker is President Obama's pick to fill an opening on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. While an official announcement hasn't been made by the White House, several sources have confirmed the impending nomination to The Record.
Thacker would replace Judge M. Blane Michael, who died earlier this year. Thacker has not return phone calls seeking comment.
But Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond College of Law, said Thacker's background make her a solid candidate.
"I assume she knows one or both of the state's U.S. senators," Tobias said recently. "That's where her nominations are coming from. One or both of them is keen on her, and they've had some dealings with her in the past."
Thacker began her career as an associate at the Charleston law firm of Allen Guthrie & Thomas from August 1992 to November 1994. She rejoined the firm in 2006 after having served as a federal prosecutor for 12 years both in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of West Virginia and in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
During her tenure with the United States Attorney's Office, Thacker was part of the trial team that prosecuted the first case in the country brought under the Violence Against Women Act -- United States v. Bailey. She tried numerous other cases, including money laundering, fraud, firearms, and tax evasion matters. She also coordinated a number of prosecution initiatives directed to combating domestic violence, criminal non-payment of child support and federal coal mine safety violations.
During her time with the Department of Justice, Thacker tried cases in multiple jurisdictions, spearheaded several nationwide initiatives, and conducted training on prosecution and trial techniques around the country and around the world. As a result, she was ultimately charged with managing the entire litigation and training work load for the Child Exploitation Section of the Department of Justice.
Thacker has received numerous awards for her work, including the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest given within the Department, for her role in the prosecution and trial of Dwight York, the leader of a worldwide pseudo-religious organization who molested countless children.
Thacker's practice concentrates on complex litigation, including toxic tort, and criminal defense.
She received her bachelor's degree from Marshall University in 1987, and her law degree from West Virginia University's College of Law in 1990.
Tobias said he hadn't heard Thacker's name mentioned as a possible nominee until The Record's report came out last month. He said he had heard state Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman and U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger named as potential nominees.
Any of those would fit into Obama's style, Tobias said.
"His nomination appointments have been very diverse," he said. "She (Thacker) fits that. A lot of them had that federal experience, and she fits that. She's done both civil and criminal, which is a real advantage. She seems to have handled a fair number of complex cases on both sides. She does seem well qualified."
Tobias said Thacker will have a difficult time taking over for Michael.
"A judge like Michael is irreplaceable, really," he said. "He was such a terrific guy -- really a great judge and a great person."
Tobias also said the Thacker timetable might be quick.
"If you get too late up against a presidential election year, the whole nomination process slows down and stops," he said. "But as long as she has both home state senators' support, it should go pretty smoothly."